Compiled By Kenneth Vercammen, Esq.
If you leave no Will or your Will is declared invalid because it was improperly prepared or is not admissible to probate:
* State law determines who gets assets, not you * Additional expenses will be incurred and extra work will be required to qualify an administrator-Surety Bond, additional costs and legal fees * Judge determines who gets custody of your children * Possible additional State inheritance taxes and Federal estate taxes * If you have no spouse or close relatives the State may take your property * The procedure to distribute assets becomes more complicated * It may also cause fights and lawsuits within your family When loved ones are grieving and dealing with death, they shouldnt be overwhelmed with Financial concerns.
Who dont you want to receive your assets?
Who is not the best choice to raise your children, or safeguard your childrens money for college? Do you want children, or grandchildren, to get money when they turn 18? Will they invest money wisely, or go to Seaside and play games?
THE FOLLOWING IS A SAMPLE OF A VARIETY OF CLAUSES AND ITEMS WHICH SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A WILL: 1ST: DEBTS AND TAXES 2ND: SPECIFIC BEQUESTS 3RD: DISPOSITION TO SPOUSE 4TH: DISPOSITION OF REMAINDER OF ESTATE 5TH: CREATION OF TRUSTS FOR SPOUSE 6TH: CREATION OF TRUST FOR CHILDREN 7TH: OTHER BENEFICIARIES UNDER 21 8TH: EXECUTORS 9TH: TRUSTEES 10TH: GUARDIANS 11TH: SURETY OR BOND 12TH: POWERS 13TH: AFTERBORN CHILDREN 14TH: PRINCIPAL AND INCOME 15TH: NO ASSIGNMENT OF BEQUESTS 16TH: GENDER 17TH: CONSTRUCTION OF WILL 18TH: NO CONTEST CLAUSE A will must not only be prepared within the legal requirements of the New Jersey Statutes but should also be prepared so it leaves no questions regarding your intentions.
WHY PERIODIC REVIEW IS ESSENTIAL
Even if you have an existing Will, there are many events that occur which may necessitate changes in your Will. Some of these are:
* Marriage, death, birth, divorce or separation affecting either you or anyone named in your Will
* Significant changes in the value of your total assets or in any particular assets which you own
* A change in your domicile
* Death or incapacity of a beneficiary, or death, incapacity or change in residence of a named executor, trustee or guardian of infants, or of one of the witnesses to the execution of the Will
* Annual changes in tax law
* Changes in who you like
MAY I CHANGE MY WILL?
Yes. A Will may be modified, added to, or entirely changed at any time before your death provided you are mentally and physically competent and desire to change your Will. You should consider revising your Will whenever there are changes in the size of your estate. For example, when your children are young, you may think it best to have a trust for them so they do not come into absolute ownership of property until they are mature. Beware, if you draw lines through items, erase or write over, or add notations to the original Will, it can be destroyed as a legal document. Either a new Will should be legally prepared or a codicil signed to legally change portions of the Will.
Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents individuals charged with criminal, drug offenses, and serious traffic violations throughout New Jersey. Our office also helps people with traffic/municipal court tickets including drivers charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Refusal and Driving While Suspended. Criminal and Motor vehicle violations can cost you. You may have to pay high fines in court or receive points on your drivers license. An accumulation of too many points, or certain moving violations may require you to pay expensive surcharges to the N.J. DMV/MVC [Motor Vehicle Commission] or have your license suspended. Don't give up! The Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen can provide experienced attorney representation for criminal and motor vehicle violations. When your job or drivers license is in jeopardy or you are facing thousands of dollars in fines, DMV/MVC surcharges and car insurance increases, you need excellent legal representation. The least expensive attorney is not always the answer. Schedule a free in-office consultation if you need experienced legal representation in a traffic/municipal court matter. Our website njwillsprobatelaw.com provides information on traffic offenses we can be retained to represent people. Our website also provides details on jail terms for traffic violations and car insurance eligibility points. Car insurance companies increase rates or drop customers based on moving violations.
Call the Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen at 732-572-0500 to schedule a free in-office consultation to hire a trial attorney.
Kenneth Vercammen & Associates Attorney at Law 2053 Woodbridge Ave Edison, NJ 08817 njwillsprobatelaw.com Criminal/ DWI/ Municipal Court Traffic/ Drug offenses
Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of his or her enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of the estate, the remaining estate forms the "Intestate Estate". Intestacy law, also referred to as the law of descent and distribution or intestate succession statutes, refers to the body of common law that determines who is entitled to the property from the estate under the rules of inheritance. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intestacy
According to the Bergen County Surrogate, It is estimated that almost one third of Bergen County residents who die this year, will die without a will. While I strongly encourage county residents to execute a will-and strongly recommend a will for every Bergen County adult-this article provides the estate procedure when a Bergen County resident dies without a will. See http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/Surrogate/BCSC_Intest.htm
The estate of every Bergen County resident must be settled with the Bergen County Surrogates Court unless the deceased owned no assets individually in New Jersey. Except in that limited circumstance, an estate must be presented to the County Surrogate before disbursement of the deceaseds assets can occur. This estate settlement requirement applies whether the person died with or without a will.
The estate of a person who dies without a will is called an "intestate" estate. The Administrators responsibilities include notifying the deceaseds next of kin of his/her death, assembling the estates assets and disbursing those assets according to law. The applicant need not be an attorney. In fact, most applicants complete the entire Surrogates Court process without the need for an attorney. However, if you feel more comfortable bringing an attorney to the Surrogates Court, you may certainly do so.
To apply to be the Administrator of an intestate estate, a person must bring the following to the County Surrogates Court: (1) The original death certificate with raised seal; (2) An estimate of the gross value (but not an item-by-item description) of the estate covering all real estate and non-real estate (personal) assets; (3) The complete names and addresses of the deceaseds next of kin; (4) A blank New Jersey check or cash for fees-the average fees, excluding bonding costs, are $150-$250); (5) A formal, written Renunciation of the right to serve as the estates Administrator signed (in the presence of a Notary Public) by every person, if any, who has statutory preference over the applicant to serve as the estates Administrator.
As a matter of law, the family members of the deceased have the first right to serve as the Administrator, in the following order of preference: spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters. Should no family member seek appointment, then a creditor or anyone else may do so. A person who renounces the right to serve as Administrator may do so without disclaiming the right to receive any of the deceaseds assets. (In contrast, by having a will, a person can choose the individual(s) he/she wishes to take charge and distribute his/her estates assets (the "Executor(s)").
Once the above-described five items have been received, the Surrogate will appoint the applicant as the Administrator of the intestate estate. In most cases, the Administrator must be bonded until the estate has been properly assembled and distributed. This bonding fee is in addition to the $150-250 in average fees paid by the person seeking to be approved as Administrator. Bonding is required to protect the creditors and beneficiaries of the estate from the possibility that the Administrator will misuse his/her authority to their financial detriment.
There are, however, exceptions to the bonding requirement for intestate estates. If the deceased has a surviving spouse and no surviving parent or child, the surviving spouse need not post a bond. If the deceased left a surviving spouse and a surviving parent or child, then there will be no bond required of the surviving spouse for the first $50,000 of the estate and one-half of the remainder. Otherwise, the cost of bonding is fixed on the value of the estate. Bond premiums are currently $100 per year, if the estate is worth $18,000 or less; $525 per year, if the estate is worth $100,000 or less. (By way of comparison, a person can have a simple Will drafted by an attorney for $250-$350 and the will can state that the person taking charge of the estates assets, the "Executor", shall serve without any bond.)
After the Administrator has been appointed and bonded, the Surrogates Court will then issue Surrogates Certificates (also known as Letters of Administration) that are used to assemble and transfer the intestates assets. It is recommended that you order several copies of these Certificates, especially if the assets are being held by several banks, brokerage firms, pension plans and insurance companies. They will also be needed to sell or transfer all real estate assets. Along with the Certificates, a General Information brochure regarding the New Jersey Inheritance Tax is sent by the Surrogates Court to the Administrator by mail within 5-7 business days of his/her appointment.
Administration of the estate cannot be first completed until several additional steps are taken. First, the Administrator must gather the assets, pay the just debts and taxes, and then distribute the balance of the estates assets in accordance with the law. Second, once all assets of the estate have been disbursed, the Administrator must have each recipient sign a Refunding Bond. The Administrator should also have the recipient(s) sign a Release at the same time. The Surrogates Court provides, without charge, a form combining a Release and Refunding Bond. The executed Release and Refunding Bond (signed by the recipient in the presence of a Notary Public) should then be filed with the Surrogates Court at a cost of $10.00 per Bond.
The laws of the State of New Jersey provide for the assets of the intestate estate to be distributed to the next of kin by "intestate succession" as follows:
I. If you die leaving a spouse but no children, grandchildren or parents, the surviving spouse receives all.
?II. If you die leaving a spouse and children who are also the children of the spouse, the spouse receives the first $50,000 plus one-half of the balance of the estate. The children receive the other one-half of the balance divided equally amongst them. If one of your children dies leaving children then your grandchildren take their deceaseds parents share. However, if all of your children have died before you then all of your grandchildren will share equally.
?III. If you die leaving a spouse and children who are not also the children of that spouse, the spouse receives one-half, the children receive one-half divided equally and, if applicable, the grandchildren take their deceased parents share unless all the children are deceased. Should that occur, all the grandchildren share equally.
?IV. If you die leaving children but no spouse, the children receive all divided equally among them. If there are grandchildren, they take their deceased parents share, unless all the children are deceased. In that event, all the grandchildren share equally.
?V. If you die leaving a spouse but no children or grandchildren, and if your mother or father is still living, your spouse receives the first $50,000 of your estate plus one-half of the balance and your parents (or parent, if only one survives you) receives the remainder.
?VI. If you die leaving no spouse, no children, no grandchildren, no grandchildren and one or both of you parents survive you, the surviving parent or parents take all divided equally. If no parent survives, then your surviving brothers and sisters receive all divided equally.
?VII. If you die leaving no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, brothers or sisters, then the estate will be divided equally among those people surviving you in the closest degree of kinship (starting with nieces and nephews) until an heir is found if possible.
?VIII. If you die leaving no surviving next of kin without a Will, your estate assets escheat to the State of New Jersey.
In a related manner, in addition to the appointment of an Administrator for an intestate estate, if the count resident dies leaving a child under 18 years of age and there is no other legal guardian for that minor child, then the Bergen County Surrogate must appoint that minor childs guardian. The procedure for this appointment is similar to the application and bonding process for an Administrator in the sense that the law gives certain family members priority to serve as guardian of the deceaseds minor child, while allowing those lower on the priority ladder to serve as long as the appropriate written renunciations have been received by the Surrogate. (In contrast, if the person who died had a will, the deceased could have designated the guardian(s) of his/her minor child in the will and this designation would have been binding upon the Surrogate and all others.
Bergen County Surrogates Court