Many New Jersey residents will die without a Will. Many will die unexpectedly before they can prepare a Will, but most people simply just don’t get around to writing a Will. If you die without a Will in New Jersey, you are said to die “Intestate”, or without testamentary documents. It is not true that if you die without a Will in New Jersey that your assets pass to the state. Instead, a set of rules decide who is in charge of your estate and to whom your assets pass.
Surrogate’s Court: If a New Jersey relative of yours dies without a Will (“Intestate”), and you wish to represent that person’s estate, you must get permission though the Surrogate’s Court. Each county has a Surrogate’s Court, so the first step is to determine which Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over the estate. For example, if the deceased was a resident of Camden County but died in a Berks County hospital, it is the Camden County Surrogate’s Court that has jurisdiction over the case. At times a person becomes ill and moves just prior to death. For example, if a person lived her entire life in Gloucester County, but became ill and moved to her daughter’s house in Atlantic County two months before she died and she would have never moved but for the illness, the Gloucester County Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over the estate.