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Ray, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41502
Experience:  30 years in civil, probate, real estate, elder law
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I am the only child of a single parent, she is on life

Customer Question

I am the only child of a single parent, she is on life support. I will be going into the hospital today to make the final decision moving forward. She is essentially a vegetable, with no recovery in sight per the critical care team. There is to my knowledge no formal will. She is in debt, credit cards, a year old vehicle purchase, her home in her name only needed repairs 2 yrs ago so she took a small second mortgage on the home. The house was totally paid for prior to that. My family (husband, 2 of my 3 daughters and now 2 grandchildren) moved in with her about 20yrs ago when my grandmother, became very ill and she needed assistance for her care, my mother had not retired as yet and needed help. What am I looking at moving forward once she's gone. We basically live from pay check to pay check in addition to my mothers pensions and social security which will cease effective 10/1/2015, being the last I anticipate. Guidance Please.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.

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

I am so sorry that you are having to go through all of this.

You would have to file probate if you want to gain title to the house here.If you think the creditors here both the home loans and credit cards are more than what the house is worth you don't open probate.You would be able to live in the house here until foreclosure and eviction which might take a year.

You have to decide here if there is enough remaining equity in the house to open probate here or let it all go.In that situation the lender likely takes back the house by foreclosure, the other creditors may get nothing.Sometimes the creditors actually open probate.In either case all the creditors get paid you would be entitled to any left over funds.

Here is lawyer referral if you think it is worth filing probate..

Probate would take about a year , expect a lawyer here to want $2k or so to take this , open probate, and complete it with sale of house.Again you have to see if the numbers add up here or not.

I appreciate the chance to help you today to make some difficult decisions in your life.If you have more questions please just ask.It is never a problem.Thanks again and the best to you.

Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.

Probate without a will is called intestate probate, here is reference if this is not your county it would be the same throughout NJ so it accurate.

Intestate=no will, testate=will, so here it is intestate which means it is court supervised and if you are appointed administrator they will be a bond required..

Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.


If you decide to do nothing here you might have a year to year and a half before bank would have foreclosed and evicted.You would be served with both suits here so you would know how that is moving along or not.Sometimes they can be real slow to pursue it, sometimes faster.

Thanks again.

Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.

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

Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.

You can also do this yourself here is what you will need..

Here under NJ law The estate of your mother is called an "intestate" estate. The Administrator's responsibilities include notifying the deceased's next of kin of his/her death, assembling the estate's assets and disbursing those assets according to law. The applicant need not be an attorney. In fact, most applicants complete the entire Surrogate's Court process without the need for an attorney.

Here for you to apply to be the Administrator of an intestate estate, you must bring the following to the County Surrogate's Court: (1) The original death certificate with raised seal; (2) An estimate of the gross value (but not an item-by-item description) of the estate covering all real estate and non-real estate (personal) assets; (3) The complete names and addresses of the deceased's next of kin; (4) A blank New Jersey check or cash for fees-the average fees, excluding bonding costs, are $150-$250); (5) A formal, written Renunciation of the right to serve as the estate's Administrator signed (in the presence of a Notary Public) by every person, if any, who has statutory preference over the applicant to serve as the estate's Administrator.

NJ provides the family members of the deceased have the first right to serve as the Administrator, in the following order of preference: spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters. Should no family member seek appointment, then a creditor or anyone else may do so. A person who renounces the right to serve as Administrator may do so without disclaiming the right to receive any of the deceased's assets.

After you provide the above-described five items, the Surrogate will appoint the applicant as the Administrator of the intestate estate. In most cases, the Administrator must be bonded until the estate has been properly assembled and distributed. This bonding fee is in addition to the $150-250 in average fees paid by the person seeking to be approved as Administrator. Bonding is required to protect the creditors and beneficiaries of the estate from the possibility that the Administrator will misuse his/her authority to their financial detriment.

There are, however, exceptions to the bonding requirement for intestate estates. If the deceased has a surviving spouse and no surviving parent or child, the surviving spouse need not post a bond. If the deceased left a surviving spouse and a surviving parent or child, then there will be no bond required of the surviving spouse for the first $50,000 of the estate and one-half of the remainder. Otherwise, the cost of bonding is fixed on the value of the estate. Bond premiums are currently $100 per year, if the estate is worth $18,000 or less; $525 per year, if the estate is worth $100,000 or less. Here it looks like a bond may be required as I stated above.

Once you have been appointed Administrator Administrator and bonded, the Surrogate's Court will then issue Surrogate's Certificates (also known as Letters of Administration) that are used to assemble and transfer the intestate's assets. It is recommended that you order several copies of these Certificates, especially if the assets are being held by several banks, brokerage firms, pension plans and insurance companies. They will also be needed to sell or transfer all real estate assets. Along with the Certificates, a General Information brochure regarding the New Jersey Inheritance Tax is sent by the Surrogate's Court to the Administrator by mail within 5-7 business days of his/her appointment.

Administration of the estate cannot be first completed until several additional steps are taken. First, the Administrator must gather the assets, pay the just debts and taxes, and then distribute the balance of the estate's assets in accordance with the law. Second, once all assets of the estate have been disbursed, the Administrator must have each recipient sign a Refunding Bond. The Administrator should also have the recipient(s) sign a Release at the same time. The Surrogate's Court provides, without charge, a form combining a Release and Refunding Bond. The executed Release and Refunding Bond (signed by the recipient in the presence of a Notary Public) should then be filed with the Surrogate's Court at a cost of $10.00 per Bond.

So again as I stated earlier this can take up to a year.You are able to sell the house here once you receive the Surrogate's certificates with court approval.

Thanks again I wish you the best.

Expert:  Ray replied 1 year ago.

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