New Jersey Probate: Can’t Find the Will

First thing is don’t panic!  In New Jersey there are several places outside of the home where you can find a will.  Many times
after a person has passed, the heirs have trouble finding the will. 
What complicates matters is that there might not even be one so how do
you know where to start looking or what will happen.  Turning the house
upside down is usually the first option for finding the will and that
is like finding a needle in a hay stack, meaning impossible.  Here are
some great tips for possibly uncovering that will…

  • If
    you happen to have a copy of the will (which would not be valid because
    you need the original), check to see if there are any attorneys named
    on the document.  The reason is that many people don’t have a safe
    place to store a will so they keep it with the attorney that helped
    them create it. 
  • Have no copy of the will?  Try checking
    for a safety deposit box at their bank.  Find bank statements to get
    information on which banks they have accounts in and you may get
    lucky.  This is where my parents keep their wills so in all likely hood
    this is the spot as many people keep the existence of a safety deposit
    box a secret.
  • Another place to check that many people don’t
    realize is the decedent’s county’s clerks office.  If the person lived
    in different places you may have to check with each clerks office.

Those
are the “Official Places” that one might keep their Will, if those
places fail to turn anything up its time to start getting creative.

  • If
    the decedent last lived in a nursing home or assisted living home, then
    you need to contact them and ask about how they handle personal
    property left behind.  Many people like to keep their wills close so
    they may have brought it with them to the home. 
  • Many
    times a person might keep their will in a safe in the house or in their
    office.  Try searching through all office papers and search for folders
    or files that might not be marked or are hidden behind a drawer in a
    next.  I’ve even heard of secret compartments within a desk the held
    the will.  Check everywhere!
  • Lastly ask all children and relatives of the decedents.  You never know where it might turn up.

Now
if you truly can not find the will, New Jersey Probate law will dictate the distribution of the assets.  When a person dies without a will they are said to have died Intestate (without a will).  Below you will find an outline of how property is distributed according to New Jersey Probate.  (taken from New Jersey State website…http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/will.htm#INTESTATE)

If You Die Leaving:
Wife or Husband and Child or Children (also of Survivor) Or their Descendants

  • Wife or Husband receives $50,000 plus one-half of balance
  • Child or Children receive one-half of balance divided equally
  • Grandchildren take their deceased parent’s share unless all children be deceased, then all grandchildren share equally.
  • Wife or Husband and Child or Children (one or more not Child of Survivor) or their Descendants
  • Wife or Husband receives one-half
  • Child receives one-half or Children receive one-half divided equally
  • Grandchildren take their deceased parent’s share unless all children be deceased, then all grandchildren share equally.

If You Die Leaving: Wife or Husband but No Children or Their Descendants and

(a) If your Mother or Father survives

  • Wife or Husband receives $50,000 plus one-half of balance
  • Mother and Father, or survivor, receives other one-half of balance

(b) If no Parent survives

  • Wife or Husband receives all.

If You Die Leaving: Child or Children but No Wife or Husband

  • Child or Children receive all divided equally
  • Grandchildren take their deceased parent’s share unless all children be deceased, then all grandchildren share equally.

If You Die Leaving: No Wife or Husband and No Children or their Descendants and

(a) If your Mother or Father survives

  • Mother and Father, or survivor, receives all

(b) If No Parent survives

  • Brothers and Sisters receive all divided equally
  • Nieces
    and Nephews take their deceased parent’s share unless all brothers and
    sisters be deceased, then all Nieces and Nephews share equally.

More Remote Cases (under this classification) are Not Covered Here

However,
the State of New Jersey takes your property if you leave no wife or
husband; child or its descendants; parent; brother or sister of their
descendants; grandparent; or uncle or aunt or their children; or their
grandchildren.

NOTE: Any person who fails to survive the
decedent by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the decedent for
purposes in intestate succession.

 If you are looking to sell a house that has been through probate or is currently in probate please contact Scott at Scottybuys.com/probate

 

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