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What Options Are Available to the Executor if There is No Will?

June 30, 2022

There is No Will

The process of putting together an estate plan should always begin with the drafting of a will. Not only will this legal document protect you, but it will also protect your spouse, your children, and any other beneficiaries that you identify in it. If you have a will, it makes it far more difficult for other people to assert a claim to your possessions after you pass away. In addition to this, it helps assure that your loved ones will be provided for when you’re gone. 

Have you been given the responsibility of serving as the executor of an estate? In that case, you have some weighty obligations to fulfill after the person who was the subject of the will dies. But what if there wasn’t a will at all, or if the will you have isn’t legally binding? Do you know what steps to take next? In today’s post, we will discuss the circumstance so that you will be prepared for it in the event that it occurs again in the future.

Who Is in Charge?

Your first inquiry should focus on who is appointed executor of an estate in the event that a will is found to be invalid or when there is no will present after the death of a person. After a person passes away, the estate of that individual has to have someone in control of it. During the course of a probate hearing, the court may choose to appoint someone. This individual would be referred to as the administrator of the estate. A surviving spouse or domestic partner is given precedence when considering candidates for this post. The court may then turn its attention, if required, to other family members, including adult children. If you require assistance in submitting a request to be appointed as administrator, please get in touch with my company for support.

If the court determines that a probate hearing is not required in your specific case because the value of the estate is not sufficient, then they will not appoint an official administrator to handle the estate’s affairs on their behalf. In most cases, the surviving spouse or an adult child will step in to handle the business of the estate rather than the executor or administrator of the will. Even in circumstances such as these, our company is able to provide assistance.

Gathering the assets of the estate and ensuring their safety is under the purview of the executor or personal representative of the estate, whoever is responsible for handling its business. The representative will need to use these assets to pay the deceased person’s bills and taxes, and then will be responsible for distributing the remaining assets to those who are lawfully permitted to inherit them in accordance with the laws of the state. In the event that a court case is being pursued, the distributions can only be issued in accordance with the court’s orders.

Who Can Receive an Inheritance?

The second concern that frequently arises in situations where there is no will to be found is who exactly can inherit the assets of the person who has passed away. According to the majority of intestate succession rules, only a surviving spouse or a blood relative is permitted to receive assets from a deceased person’s estate.

The laws governing the distribution of assets in the event of a person’s death without a valid will, a living trust, or another testamentary document are referred to as “intestate succession laws.” If there is no will, charitable organizations, friends, and unmarried partners are not eligible to inherit any property. It is customary for the surviving spouse to be awarded the largest portion of the estate. In the event that there are no surviving children, the surviving husband is entitled to inherit everything.

The following are examples of assets that are not governed by rules governing succession in the event of death or by wills:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Holdings in a transfer-on-death account may include bank deposits or securities.
  • Assets held under a revocable living trust
  • Holdings in real estate or banking institutions that are held either in joint tenancy or in tenancy by the totality
  • Beneficiaries that have been designated for funds held in a 401(k) or an IRA

Children’s Counseling and Therapy

Will-drafters almost always appoint a guardian for their children within the bounds of their documents. When there is no will and there are minor children but no surviving spouse, the court will have to appoint a guardian for the children. This guardian will be responsible for making sure the children’s needs are met. Having a will ensures that your wishes regarding who should take care of your children after you are gone are carried out. In the event that you do not leave a will, the court may select as guardian a person that you would not have necessarily picked for the role.

Contact a New Jersey Will Lawyer for a Consultation About Estate Planning in NJ or NYC Today

The New Jersey will lawyers at the Choi Law Firm represent clients across North Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Essex County, and throughout New York, including Queens County, Nassau County, and NYC. We understand how challenging this time can be for you and your loved ones, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests throughout the legal process. Call us today at 201-613-5557 or fill out our convenient online contact form to schedule a consultation. We have offices located at 1372 Palisade Avenue, Fort Lee, New Jersey, and 164-01 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, New York.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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