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Estate Law Questions

Many people that have lost a family member, friend or loved one are often faced with questionable situations that involve the deceased’s estate. Uncertainties of Estate Law and how the probate system might work often lead to questions like the ones answered below.

I would like to file a suit against a person who has recently deceased. What is the estate law on this?

Once a person becomes deceased you can no longer sue them. You can however sue the deceased person’s estate. The estate should be opened in the county that the deceased person lived in. If an estate has not been opened then you can apply for the estate to be open. The heirs can intervene and apply for the estate to be open. For your situation it doesn’t matter who opens the estate as long as it gets open so that you can sue the estate.

Is it possible for an Executor to settle an estate in New Jersey without an attorney if there was a will?

It would depend. If the deceased did not have any assets and the executor is just dispersing personal possessions like clothing and furniture then probate or an attorney is not necessary. If the deceased had left assets only in their name or has creditors that need to be paid then probate would be necessary. It would pay the creditors and transfer any assets to the beneficiaries.

My mother and I had a Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship mutual funds account owned together that was worth $40,000 at the time of her death. My mother’s half was appropriated into an estate account for the executor to use at his discretion. I did not give my consent. Did the broker transfer my rightful money?

What the broker did was wrong but not illegal. Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship property goes to the survivor and not the estate. You would have to pay inheritance tax on your mother’s portion of the funds. You can demand that the broker give you the funds immediately. If they don’t give them to you immediately you can inform the attorney that you will have to petition the probate court for the return of the funds.

Is it possible to avoid New Jersey Estate Tax if one surviving parent sells their home (valued at over $675,000) to their child for a minimal amount of money before they die?

Yes it is possible in many cases. New Jersey does have an inheritance tax but does not impose a gift tax. Any sale that is less than fair market value would be partially a sale and the remaining part a gift. The portion that is under the fair market value would be the gift and therefore not subject to an inheritance tax because it transferred prior to the death.

I was the beneficiary of my father’s life insurance. I used a great deal of this insurance money to pay down his debt because I thought that I was required to. Is this required according to Estate Law?

Using your inheritance (life insurance monies) to pay off your father’s debt is not required whatsoever in most cases. Life insurance proceeds, unless they name the estate as the beneficiary, completely bypass probate and go solely to the heir(s). The beneficiary can do with the money whatever they want it does not have to go towards any of the deceased debt.

Being knowledgeable in Estate law can help when dealing with probate and estate concerns. Experts can help answer questions about probate procedures or how to apply for an estate to be open. Get the answers fast and affordably by asking an Expert.
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Recent Estate Questions

  • We have several questions and our problem is complicated. To

    We have several questions and our problem is complicated. To give you background...The Giftee deeded the mineral rights to her 3 children and 12 step-children. This was done in 1987 when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He left his farm to her and she gift/deeded her mineral rights to his 12 children and her own 3 children by former marriage. At the time there was no activity with the mineral rights so she declared them of no value on the deed. Some years after this deed was prepared her eldest son died, and in 2013 her only daughter died. The daughter was executor of mothers estate but she had not discovered the gifted deed until 2012, 7 months before her death. We now have two deaths of the original 15 and anticipate two more in the next few years. There was no will in one case and in the other the daughter left everything to her husband, my brother, who is also one of the 15. In both cases those whom died had children. The deaths were in the state of Oregon and the mineral rights are in N Dakota. Now the question...Since neither spouse has any money...where do we begin and what is required to probate the transfer of title to the mineral rights?
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