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RayAnswers
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36989
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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Brother #1 died without heirs, and no will. Shortly after,

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Brother #1 died without heirs, and no will. Shortly after, mother dies. Sibling gets administrative rights to proceed with wrongful death claim for brother #1. After lawyers fees, settlement amount is approximately $139,000. There are additional legal fees, funeral, etc. to be reimbursed to family members, and then monies to be distributed to siblings of brother #1 and nieces and nephews. These monies and distribution are apparently not taxable in NJ due to the wrongful death claim (no punitive damages awarded. How to proceed with distribution?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.

Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you today.

Here is the law.

B. N.J.S.A. 2A:31-4 (Wrongful Death Act)

This action is brought on behalf of the surviving heirs of the deceased person. The amount recovered in proceedings under this chapter shall be for the exclusive benefit of the persons entitled to take any intestate personal property of the decedent and in the proportions in which they are entitled to take the same. If any of the persons so entitled were dependent on the decedent at his death, they shall take the same as though they were the sole persons so entitled, in such proportions, as shall be determined by the court without a jury, and as will result in a fair and equitable apportionment of the amount recovered, among them, taking into account in such determination, but not limited necessarily thereby, the age of the dependents, their physical and mental condition, the necessity or desirability of providing them with educational facilities, their financial condition and the availability to them of other means of support, present and future, and any other relevant factors which will contribute to a fair and equitable apportionment of the amount recovered.

The wrongful death award is distributed based on dependency to the decedent as follows:

A) Wrongful death recovery is not part of the estate and is distributed without regard to decedent last will and statement. Schmoll v. Creely, 54 N.J. 194 (1969).

B) Proportions of recoevery are determined by the court when minors involved the court will appoint guardian ad litem.

It is distributed directly to the legal heirs here it does not pass through probate.

If you die with:here’s what happens:

  • children but no spouse
  • children inherit everything
  • spouse but no descendants or parents
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and descendants from you and that spouse, and the spouse has no other descendants
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and descendants from you and that spouse, and the spouse has descendants from another relationship
  • spouse inherits the first 25% of your intestate property (but not less than $50,000 or more than $200,000), plus 1/2 of the balance
  • your descendants inherit everything else
  • spouse and descendants from you and someone other than that spouse
  • spouse inherits the first 25% of your intestate property (but not less than $50,000 or more than $200,000), plus 1/2 of the balance
  • descendants inherit everything else
  • spouse and parents
  • spouse inherits the first 25% of your intestate property (but not less than $50,000 or more than $200,000), plus 3/4 of the balance
  • parents inherit remaining intestate property
  • parents but no spouse or descendants
  • parents inherit everything
  • siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents
  • siblings inherit everything

So here it passes first to parents if no spouse or children of deceased, then to siblings.If a sibling is deceased then it passes to their heirs which may be nieces and nephews.The firm here should pay them directly their share.

You are correct this is not taxed because it is not considered and estate recovery but rather passes directly to them as an heir.No probate is required and creditors cannot touch it.

I appreciate the chance to help you today.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.

If you can leave a positive rating when we are done it is always much appreciated.

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