By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Estate & Probate Administration Attorney

You’re the estate executor or administrator. A beneficiary is the father of a child(ren) who owes child support, and is the sole beneficiary of a home and cash left to him in the estate. He wants the home placed in his name, but has a significant child support judgment. What happens if the cash is not sufficient to satisfy the arrears, must the administrator/executor sell the home to pay the arrears? Or can she transfer it to him subject to the judgment? Here’s why Executors and Administrators can get into a lot of trouble without ever knowing why.

The answer is that the arrears have to be paid and are part of all estate questionnaire forms that title companies require be answered if the property is ever to be sold. So either the beneficiary borrows against the house or sells other assets to satisfy the arrears to avoid selling the house. Otherwise, he won’t have clear title to the home. Child support judgements have absolute priority over many other judgements and decisions. This is a serious issue that must be thoughtfully addressed.

The executor can have personal liability if he or she distributes the real estate without clearing the child support judgment.

To discuss your NJ Estate & Probate Administration matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.