When a loved one dies and was married at the time of his or her death, his or her surviving spouse will be dealing with a lot emotionally. What the surviving spouse may be unprepared for is the time and expense administering the deceased's estate will take. However, if the value of the deceased's estate is small enough and if other elements are met, it may be possible to bypass administration of the estate (probate).
Under New Jersey Statutes §3B:10-3, if a person dies intestate (without a will or trust) and the value of his or her real property and personal assets does not exceed $50,000 then the deceased's surviving spouse or domestic partner may receive the assets of the estate without having to go through administration.
To bypass administration, the surviving spouse must execute an affidavit with the court in the county where the deceased lived. The affidavit must contain provisions stating that the affiant is the surviving spouse of the deceased and that the value of the deceased's estate is no greater than $50,000. The affidavit also must contain provisions setting forth where the deceased lived at the time of the deceased's death and the nature, location and value of the deceased's property. Up to $10,000 of the deceased assets will be free from any debts. If these elements are met, it may be possible for the deceased's surviving spouse to receive the assets of the deceased's estate without administration.
This is only a basic overview of ways a surviving spouse might be able to bypass the administration of an estate and is not meant to be legal advice. Similar, but in some ways different, rules exist if the deceased did not leave behind a surviving spouse. Each person's situation is different, meaning that when it comes to the administration of an estate, the facts of each person's case must be examined in the context of the law to determine whether estate administration is necessary. If it is not, it could save the deceased's heirs time and money, which can be of great relief during what is a difficult time.