When someone dies intestate -- without a will -- in the state of New Jersey, his or her estate is subject to state succession laws. This means a judge will get to decide whom to name as the executor and beneficiaries, and how assets will be divided. For some families, this works out just fine in the end. For others, this can lead to estate litigation, as conflict may arise regarding how the estate is being handled.
When there is no will, the administering of the estate will have to be taken care of in probate court. There are some benefits to this. First, it allows property titles to be transferred to new owners in the appropriate way. Second, it is a good way to resolve any disputes surrounding the estate. Finally, third, it limits the amount of time creditors have to make claims on the estate.
Following a loved one's death, someone has to start the probate process by filing to open a probate case in court. This can be done by anyone who wishes to serve as the official administrator. One's will request will likely be approved if all the proper documentation is provided to the court and no one better suited to the position comes forward.
Probate can take some time in New Jersey, but in many cases, it can be completed without too many issues. When there are questions about how an administrator is doing his or her job or how assets are being handled, beneficiaries and creditors can take legal action to address the problems. An estate litigation attorney can help those who wish to contest the handling of an estate when its owner dies intestate or, on the flipside, help those who are administering the estate fight to do it their way.