What Happens If You Die in New Jersey Without a Trust?
We all know we are supposed to do estate planning, but not all of us get around to it. So, what happens to your estate if you don’t have a trust or Last Will and you die a resident of New Jersey?
The answer is. . . Your estate will be distributed according to New Jersey “intestate laws”, which means your estate may or may not be distributed the way you want it.
Caution: Dying Without a Trust in New Jersey is Bad for Your (Financial) Health
Dying without a trust or Last Will is called “dying intestate”. New Jersey has laws that determine what happens to your estate if you don’t have a trust or a will. If you are married, New Jersey law will award a portion of your estate to your spouse, with the rest divided among your children. If you don’t have children, then your estate will be divided among other living relatives such as your parents or siblings. If you are single, New Jersey provides that your estate will go to your children or to other living relatives if you don’t have children. If you have absolutely no living relatives, then your estate will go to the state of New Jersey. This is called escheating to the state of New Jersey.
Note that any jointly held assets, such as bank accounts or real estate, will go directly to the co-owner. In addition, any life insurance policies or retirement accounts will go directly to the beneficiary designated on the account. And if you have a trust, the assets held in the trust will go to the beneficiary designated in the trust.
In a trust you can name a guardian for your minor and/or disabled adult children; if you do not have a trust or a will, the court will determine who will act as guardian of your children. The court will also appoint the person who will administer your estate. In addition, if you are unmarried but have an unregistered partner, your partner will not inherit anything from your estate without a trust or will naming him or her as a beneficiary.
The best way to ensure your estate is distributed the way you want it is to plan your estate with a NJ trust attorney.
The trust attorneys at Hanlon Niemann & Wright are experienced in NJ estate planning and can help you to determine your needs.
Call Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. at
or e-mail him at
Mr. Niemann is easy to talk to and wants to assist you to protect everything that is important to you.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Trust Attorney
Trust attorney serving these New Jersey Counties:
Monmouth County, Ocean County, Essex County, Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County,
Bergen County, Morris County, Burlington County, Union County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Passaic County