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Kenneth Vercammen & Associates
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Dying Without a Will

Intestate Succession

When no Will exists, Real and Personal property is not distributed according to the decedent person's desires. Rather, it is distributed according to the statutes of New Jersey.

How will your property be divided if you have no Will? If you die without leaving a Will and are a resident of New Jersey, the State law provides the manner for distributing your property. Your net estate remaining after deduction of debts, taxes, family exemptions, etc., would be distributed under the Statutes governing Decedent's Estates and, in the case of most common occurrence, the heirs who would receive such property are as follows:

Property owned jointly by husband and wife is automatically owned by the survivor. The following charts show the distribution of separately owned property. (Revised February 27, 2005) according to the Middlesex County Surrogate, See http://www.co.middlesex.nj.us/surrogate/yourwill.asp#dyi

The Chart below shows how an Estate is distributed in New Jersey if you do not leave a Will.

IF YOU DIE LEAVING:

Survivors (Heirs)

New (2004) UPC

Spouse and parent(s), but no children

Spouse: the first 25% (but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000) plus three fourths of the balance

Parent(s): All other estate assets

Spouse and children of Decedent, all of whom are also children of spouse (and spouse has no children by any other relationship)

Spouse: 100% of estate

Children: nothing

Spouse and children of Decedent, some of whom are not children of spouse

Spouse: the first 25% (but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000) plus one half of the balance

Children of the Decedent: all other estate assets

Spouse and children of Decedent, all of whom are also children of spouse (and spouse has children by another relationship)

Spouse: the first 25% (but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000) plus one half of the balance

Children of the Decedent: all other estate assets

Spouse and stepchildren (children of spouse who are not Decedent's children)

Spouse: 100% of estate

Stepchildren: nothing

Children of spouse (stepchildren), but no descendants, parents, descendants of parents or descendants of grandparents

Stepchildren: 100% of estate

Note: shares of predeceased children pass to descendants by representation. The new rules on intestacy say that the decedents inherit "per capita, by generation" rather than "per stirpes." Source: http://www.co.middlesex.nj.us/surrogate/yourwill.asp#dyi

However, the State of New Jersey takes your property if you leave no wife or husband; child or its descendants; parent; brother or sister or their descendants; grandparent; or uncle or aunt or their children; or their grandchildren or stepchildren.

NOTE: Any person who fails to survive the decedent by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the decedent for purposes of intestate succession.

APPOINTMENT OF ADMINISTRATOR OR PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE

When there is no Will, an administrator, administratrix, or personal representative is appointed by the Court. Any close relative may be appointed.

For an individual or a bank to be appointed administrator or personal representative, all other heirs must renounce their rights. In most cases, a surety bond must be furnished by paying a premium to a surety company for signing this bond.
If all heirs cannot agree on who will serve as an administrator, then the heir requesting to be appointed as administrator must have their attorney file a Complaint and Order to Show Cause to request the court appoint you as administrator.

MINIMUM DUTIES OF ADMINISTRATOR

ACCORDING TO THE MIDDLESEX COUNTY SURROGATE WEBSITE, THERE ARE MANY RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ADMINISTRATOR, See http://www.co.middlesex.nj.us/surrogate/yourwill.asp#dyi

1 The Administrator of an intestate estate (no Will) is obligated to notify the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, in the event that there are no surviving heirs. In this case, the net proceeds of the estate would escheat to the State of New Jersey.

2. The Administrator is responsible for determining and marshaling all assets of the estate. An estate checking account is opened from which bills are paid. It may be necessary to secure a Federal ID number for the estate. You can call the IRS AT 800-829-1040 for an ID number.

3. The Administrator is responsible for all debts, last illness expenses, inheritance and estate taxes, and administrative expenses from the decedent's assets.

4. The Administrator is responsible for filing appropriate State and Federal tax forms as applicable, and forwarding any tax payments due.

5. The Administrator is entitled to a commission of 5% of the value of the gross estate (for estates up to $200,000.00) and 6% on income if they handle the estate properly.

6. The Administrator shall prepare an accounting of the estate assets and disbursements and proposed distribution, which accounting may be proved informally by each beneficiary/heir acknowledging his approval of same. In the alternative, the Superior Court of New Jersey approves a Formal Accounting. Filing fee for the Informal Accounting is $5.00 per page.

7. The Executor has the obligation to distribute the net estate in a timely manner, in accordance with the terms of the will. The Administrator distributes in accordance with the intestate laws of the State of New Jersey. A copy of the relevant New Jersey Statutes is available at the Law Library, which is located on the second floor of the Middlesex County Courthouse.

8. Prior to the distribution, each beneficiary shall execute a Refunding Bond and Release. Upon receipt of the executed document, the Administrator issues payment. The original refunding Bonds and Releases are filed with the Surrogate. The filing fee is $5.00 per page.

9. The Administrator is required by NJ law to initiate a child support enforcement order for any beneficiary receiving in excess of $2,000.00, prior to distribution of any money to the beneficiary. The search should be conducted by a private judgment search company that will verify results.

ADMINISTRATOR OF A PROBATE ESTATE- OTHER DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The procedures in an Estate Administration may take from six months to several years, and a client’s patience may be sorely tried during this time. However, it has been our experience that clients who are forewarned have a much higher tolerance level for the slowly turning wheels of justice.

Some of the Duties of the Administrator in Probate Estate Administration

1. Conduct a thorough search of the decedent's personal papers and effects for any evidence which might point you in the direction of a potential creditor;

2. Carefully examine the decedent's checkbook and check register for recurring payments, as these may indicate an existing debt;

3. Contact the issuer of each credit card that the decedent had in his/her possession at the time of his/ her death;

4. Contact all parties who provided medical care, treatment, or assistance to the decedent prior to his/her death;

Your attorney will not be able to file the NJ inheritance tax return until it is clear as to the amounts of the medical bills. Medical expenses can be deducted in the inheritance tax.

Under United States Supreme Court Case, Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc., v. Joanne Pope, Executrix of the Estate of H. Everett Pope, Jr., Deceased, the Administrator/ Personal Representative in every estate is personally responsible to provide actual notice to all known or "readily ascertainable" creditors of the decedent. This means that is your responsibility to diligently search for any "readily ascertainable" creditors.

Other duties/ Administrator to Do

Let's review the major duties involved-

In General. The administrator's job is to (1) administer the estate--i.e., collect and manage assets, file tax returns and pay taxes and debts--and (2) distribute any assets or make any distributions of bequests, whether personal or charitable in nature, as the deceased directed (under the provisions of the Will). Let's take a look at some of the specific steps involved and what these responsibilities can mean. Chronological order of the various duties may vary.

Probate. An employer identification number ("EIN") must be obtained for the estate; this number must be included on all returns and other tax documents having to do with the estate. The administrator should also file a written notice with the IRS that he/she is serving as the fiduciary of the estate. This gives the administrator the authority to deal with the IRS on the estate's behalf.

Pay the Debts. The claims of the estate's creditors must be paid. Sometimes a claim must be litigated to determine if it is valid. Any estate administration expenses, such as attorneys', accountants' and appraisers' fees, must also be paid.

Manage the Estate. The administrator takes legal title to the assets in the probate estate. The probate court will sometimes require a public accounting of the estate assets. The assets of the estate must be found and may have to be collected. As part of the asset management function, the administrator may have to liquidate or run a business or manage a securities portfolio. To sell marketable securities or real estate, the administrator will have to obtain stock power, tax waivers, file affidavits, and so on.

Take Care of Tax Matters. The administrator is legally responsible for filing necessary income and estate-tax returns (federal and state) and for paying all death taxes (i.e., estate and inheritance). The administrator can, in some cases be held personally liable for unpaid taxes of the estate. Tax returns that will need to be filed can include the estate's income tax return (both federal and state), the federal estate-tax return, the state death tax return (estate and/or inheritance), and the deceased's final income tax return (federal and state). Taxes usually must be paid before other debts. In many instances, federal estate-tax returns are not needed as the size of the estate will be under the amount for which a federal estate-tax return is required.

Often it is necessary to hire an appraiser to value certain assets of the estate, such as a business, pension, or real estate, since estate taxes are based on the "fair market" value of the assets. After the filing of the returns and payment of taxes, the Internal Revenue Service will generally send some type of estate closing letter accepting the return. Occasionally, the return will be audited.

Under increasingly complex laws and rulings, particularly with respect to taxes, in larger estates an administrator can be in charge for two or three years before the estate administration is completed. If the job is to be done without unnecessary cost and without causing undue hardship and delay for the beneficiaries of the estate, the administrator should have an understanding of the many problems involved and an organization created for settling estates.

At some point in time, you may be asked to serve as the administrator of the estate of a relative or friend, or you may ask someone to serve as your administrator. An administrator's job comes with many legal obligations. Under certain circumstances, an administrator can even be held personally liable for unpaid estate taxes.

Distribute the Assets. After all debts and expenses have been paid, the distribute the assets with extra attention and meticulous bookkeeping by the administrator. Frequently, beneficiaries can receive partial distributions of their inheritance without having to wait for the closing of the estate.

Under increasingly complex laws and rulings, particularly with respect to taxes, in larger estates an administrator can be in charge for two or three years before the estate administration is completed. If the job is to be done without unnecessary cost and without causing undue hardship and delay for the beneficiaries of the estate, the administrator should have an understanding of the many problems involved and an organization created for settling estates. The administrator should retain an attorney experienced in estate administration.

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Kenneth Vercammen was the Middlesex County Bar Municipal Court Attorney of the Year

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Since 1985, KENNETH VERCAMMEN has worked as a personal injury attorney, working for injury victims and their families. By taking a hard-hitting, aggressive approach toward the insurance companies, KENNETH VERCAMMEN and our co-counsel have consistently obtained outstanding results for many injured clients over the years I am proud to have worked on cases in various capacities, small and large. While obviously prior results cannot guarantee the outcome of future cases, I can guarantee that you case will receive the same degree of dedication and hard work that went into each of these prior cases.

In direct contrast to the hard-hitting approach we take toward the insurance companies is the soft approach we take toward our clients. I am proud of my compassionate staff as I am of the outstanding financial results they have achieved. For many years, I have watched them treat our clients with patience, dignity and respect. I would have it no other way.

Many years ago, I attended a seminar sponsored by the American Bar Association on Law Practice Management. This was to help insure that each of our clients is always treated like a person -- not a file! We recognize that you are innocent victims and that you have placed your trust in us. Please understand that we understand what you are going through. Feel comforted that we are here to help you.

If you retain KENNETH VERCAMMEN to represent you, we will give you the same advice we give each of our clients -- concentrate on your life, you family and your health. We will take care of everything else. Leave all of the work and worry about your legal rights to us. Trust us. Believe in us. Have faith in us as your attorneys. Understand that we will always to do what we believe is best for you and your case. Helping you is our job. In fact, it is our only job -- guiding injury victims like you through one of the most difficult times of your lives, with care and concern -- while fighting aggressively to the limits of the law to obtain compensation and justice for each of you!

Print our Personal Injury Questionnaire on our Website, Fill it out and Fax back, so we can determine if we can help you obtain an injury settlement. We would welcome an opportunity to prove to you what we have proven to thousands of injured clients -- that you can feel comfortable and secure in the fact that KENNETH VERCAMMEN - Trial Attorney We Fight To Win.

When you have been injured in an accident or collision, you are worried about who is going to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. The last thing you want is to be taken advantage of by an insurance company. If you dont protect your rights, you may not be able to make a claim.

Insurance companies have attorneys and adjusters whose goal is to pay you as little as they can. You need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to fight for you. I am dedicated to helping your recover as much money as possible under the law.

You need an attorney who will work hard to protect your rights, maximize your insurance settlement and minimize the hassles of dealing with the insurance companies. You need an experienced and aggressive New Jersey trial lawyer with PROVEN RESULTS who will fight for you. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer can make the difference between getting what you deserve and getting nothing.

Without the threat of a lawyer who is willing to go to trial and seek a big jury verdict, why would an insurance company pay you what your claim is really worth? Lawsuits can be expensive, and many people do not have the money to pursue their claim. In every case, I advance all costs associated with pursuing your case and I do not ask you for a penny until we recover from the other side.

I am an experienced aggressive trial lawyer and a 3rd degree Black Belt. I am not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what it takes to maximize the amount of money your recover for your personal injury. I offer one-on-one service, and I will not hand your case off to an inexperienced lawyer or a paralegal.

Reduce the stress of making a claim.

Personal injury accidents can turn your life upside down. Making a personal injury claim can be difficult and time consuming. Once I take your case, you can stop worrying about dealing with the insurance companies and focus on recovering from your injuries. I take care of all of the paperwork, phone calls, and negotiations, so you can get on with your life.

p.s. For those clients who are afraid or reluctant to go to Court, KENNETH VERCAMMEN also offers a special -- For Settlement Only -- program. This means that if we are unable to settle with the insurance company, we will not go any further -- unless you want us to. You have my personal assurance that there will be absolutely no pressure and no obligation.

We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.

This means:
YOU DONT OWE ME A LEGAL FEE UNLESS I RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU.

Call our office to schedule a "confidential" appointment 732-572-0500

Kenneth A. Vercammen is the Managing Attorney at Kenneth Vercammen & Associates in Edison, NJ. He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey each week on personal injury matters, Criminal /Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 125 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on criminal, elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the American Bar Association Tort and Insurance Committee Newsletter.

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