If you die in Camden County, New Jersey without a will, you are said to die “intestate”. Each state has developed its own rules about how the assets of intestate estates are divided among the living. These rules vary from state to state, but in general, your assets will be divided between your spouse and children. How your estate is divided between your spouse and child depends on your state of residence at the time of your death.
If you have no spouse or children, then your possessions will pass to your other family members. If you have no family; your assets pass to New Jersey. Despite what you may have heard, your friends have no right to receive a share of your intestate estate. These state rules are the legislature’s best guess as to what you would have done had you gotten around to writing a will. As a guess, they will not likely reflect your true wishes. Having a will allows you to document your true wishes, and to avoid potential family conflicts that develop when the county’s rules are imposed.
If you die without a will and a resident of Camden County, the New Jersey rules of intestate succession presume that you would want all of your assets to pass to your spouse, but only if your children are also the children of your spouse. New Jersey also assumes that you do not want to leave all of your estate to your surviving spouse if you die a Camden County resident survived by your spouse and at least one child from a previous relationship. In that scenario, the state puts aside some of the intestate estate for the children.
As you can see, New Jersey’s assumptions might not reflect your wishes. For more detailed information about how New Jersey addresses intestate estates, read my article, “Intestate Succession in New Jersey (Who Gets Your Stuff if You Die Without a Will in New Jersey)”.
You worked hard for your assets and they should go to the people or organizations that you like. Have a Camden County estate planning attorney craft you a will that reflects your true intentions. If you don’t get around to it, New Jersey will make the decisions for you. New Jersey will likely not get it right.
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