Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hello: Sorry to be up so late but we have critical issue that we need some legal advise on. My sister died last week without a will in the state of New Jersey. She is survived by 7 brother and sisters. Our father died and mother abandoned us 52 years ago. Three of us were adopted to other families out of foster care. 25 years ago we were all reunited and we have lived like brothers and sisters for 25 years. My sister was not married and had no children of her own. She did not have a domestic partner. We went to Surogate Office today and were devastated to learn that two of our brothers and one sister, all of whom were adopted after our family was destroyed, have no claim to my sisters estate. How could this be? Is there nothing we can do? It is tearing our family apart. Second one of my sisters has been named beneficiary on the life insurance, 401K, pension plan which belonged to my deceased sister. Do these assets have to be probated since my sister designated a beneficiary? Do we only have to put assets in the probate which were just in my sister's name? Can my sister with a DC just liquidate the assets she is beneficiary on and pass those to her siblings? I know it is late but we are having a family meeting later this morning and it would be helpful to have some direction to bring peace to our fragile family. Serving w/you ray XXXXX
You are very good and I appreciate your quick and timely response. It is not your fault but what is rationale for that law, if you know? Doesn't really matter it is what it is...
Moreover, so only assets which are only in her name, deed to her house, her automobile, bank account if no beneficiary will be subject to surrogate?
What about my mother, she left 52 years ago and has never been found. We have no death certificate for her and have no idea what happened to her. Will this be a problem?
Thanks again, you will received excellent rating and be paid. Are you NJ lawyer who we can contract with in this area of the law?
The law is N.J.S.A 9:3-50(c)(2)-(3). The rationale is that an adopted child could inherit from both the legally adoptive parents as well as from the natural parents. This would give an adopted child an economic advantage over any natural child, who would simultaneously be in a deficit position. All adopted children would have two sources of inheritance, while all natural children would not. That would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There is no rational reason why an adopted child should have an advantage over a natural child at the death of a parent.
A: She will be presumed dead after seven years missing. If you know her Social Security Number, you may be able to confirm her death through the Social Security Administration. Hope this helps.
It looks like on my last post, the additional questions posted below and perhaps you did not see them, or are you still preparing a response?
I was editing while you were reading. Please refresh your webpage (F5 key) and re-read the answer. Sorry about that, chief.
And my final question to that second post: Do you practice in NJ and are you available to help us with surrogate court if we need an attorney for this mess?