Estate Law: What Are letters of Administration?
According to New Jersey estate law, those who pass away without a last will and testament have died intestate. Thus, instead of using an executor to probate the estate, the court appoints an administrator. The person who wishes to take on this role must apply for Letters of Administration to receive the right to administer the estate. Learn more about what this means, including the administration duties.
Letters of Administration and probating an estate
People can submit Letters of Administration five days after someone passes away without a will. If granted, that person will navigate through probate. However, it is always advisable to seek legal counsel before applying. Here are the steps for applying for Letters of Administration.
When the deceased leaves behind a surviving spouse, that person is first in line to apply for Letters of Administration. If the couple does not have children, the surviving spouse does not have to post a surety bond. However, if children have rights to the estate and the estate’s value is greater than $50,000, a surety bond is required. This protects the assets in the estate.
The surviving spouse has the right to refuse to administer the estate. If that happens, the spouse can ask someone else to handle the duties. It is important to understand that person will have to post a bond, even if the estate is valued below $50,000. An attorney can help the client get the necessary bond.
When someone passes away without a surviving spouse, the next of kin can apply for Letters of Administration. However, if others also have the right to administer the estate, the applicant must provide renunciations from those parties with the application. If that is not possible, the applicant has to provide notice to family members about the application. New Jersey residents must be notified at least ten days in advance. However, it extends to 60 days for family members who live outside the state.
Appointment of an estate administrator
Petitioners must appear in Surrogate Court before receiving authority to administer the estate. During the appearance, they must provide a Certified Death Certificate, a list of assets, and an estimate of taxes and debts. Also, the court will request the names and addresses of the next of kin. If the petitioner does not have the information necessary, the court will deny the request.
The probate clerk will prepare the Letters of Administration for the interested party to sign. Also, the petitioner must sign an affidavit of estate assets, renunciations or proof of notice, and other documents. Additionally, the administrator might be asked to provide a bond. This must all be taken care of before the request is granted.
Consult with an estate law attorney
If your loved one passed away without a will, you have to obtain Letters of Administration and go through additional steps. This can be confusing, so consider seeking legal counsel. Your estate law attorney can guide you through the legal requirements for administering an estate. Then, you will not have to worry about making costly mistakes.
Call us at (732) 449-0449 for more information from Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. or to schedule a consultation in our office in Sea Girt. NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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