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Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55717
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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My sister dies in March and all of her possessions are still

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My sister dies in March and all of her possessions are still at her boyfriends house. He also has her dog, her car and her ashes. My parents and I agreed to give everyone a little time to adjust before going through her belongings, but when I speak to her boyfriend, he says she didn't have much. I know this is not the case, but with all of her things in his home, how do we go about getting access? She had moved in with him 10 months before her death and they had been together less than 2 years so I don't believe they could be considered common law.
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good afternoon. Does yous sister have an estate that needs to be probated? NJ no longer recognizes common law marriage, btw.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She didn't have any possessions that are worth a great deal of money, just the sentimental value for my parents and myself. I just want to now what our rights as her next of kin are if her boyfriend refuses to give us access at all. So far he has just said he is very busy, still needs more time, or there isn't much there.

Thanks. You do have the right to claim her possessions. If he will not voluntarily allow you to do so, under N.J. STAT. ANN. §3B:10-4 (2011), you would do the following: "Where there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner, one of the decease’s heirs may collect the assets due the estate if the deceased died without a will and the total value of the real and personal assets of the estate does not exceed $10,000. The heir must obtain the consent in writing of the remaining heirs and must execute and file an affidavit with the appropriate surrogate or court outlined in the statute. The affidavit must set forth the residence of the decedent at the time of death, the names, residences and relationships of all of the heirs, the nature, location and value of the real and personal assets, and a statement that the value of the real and personal assets will not exceed $10,000.00. (N.J. STAT. ANN. §3B:10-4 (2011)." The consent and the affidavit shall be filed and recorded, in the office of the surrogate or, if the proceeding is before the Superior Court, then in the office of the clerk of that court.

If he refuses to honor the affidavit, file a petition in the court to have the court order him to do so. If he then refuses, he will be held in contempt of court and be subject to civil and/or criminal sanctions from the court.

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