Probate for Small NJ Estates

Show Table of Contents
Courthouse for estate probate

In New Jersey, probate is not required if the estate is small and there is no will.

Affidavit of Surviving Spouse

If there is no will and the value of a NJ estate does not exceed $50,000, a surviving spouse or domestic partner can request an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse from the court (see Court below), enabling the spouse to collect assets from their current custodians and to settle the estate in the normal manner: resolve any estate debts and distribute remaining assets to heirs.

Note that under these conditions, the spouse is entitled to $10K from the estate before any creditors are paid.

Here is a sample Affidavit of Surviving Spouse for Hunterdon County; check with your local Surrogate's court (see Court below) for their preferred format

You can use an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse for Motor Vehicle (Form BA-62) to obtain title of a motor vehicle.

See NJ Rev Stat § 3B:10-3.

Affidavit of Heirship

If there is no will and there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner, and if the value of a NJ estate does not exceed $20,000, an heir can request an Affidavit of Surviving Heirship from the court (see Court below), enabling the heir to collect assets from their current custodians and to settle the estate in the normal manner: resolve any estate debts and distribute remaining assets to the heirs.

Here is a sample application for an Affidavit of Next of Kin for Mercer County; check with your local Surrogate's court (see Court below) for their preferred format. Alternatively, you can use this generic NJ Small Estate Affidavit.

See NJ Rev Stat § 3B:10-4.

Estate Settlement Considerations

Before paying any debts or making any distributions, be sure to account for any NJ Family Entitlements, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so you should arrange to have all debts resolved before distributing assets. Unpaid estate creditors have the right to sue heirs for the value of any distributions received using the approaches described on this page.

If estate solvency is uncertain, an executor should consider going through official probate for the increased creditor protection it offers. Alternately, such uncertainty can sometimes persuade creditors to forgive a portion of debts, since they will want to avoid legal expenses as well, and may prefer to get something rather than nothing.

See also Making Distributions.

No Small Estate Affidavit

Many people ask about using a small estate affidavit with no court involvement, but NJ does not support such affidavits. You must use one of the above methods (or full probate) for handling small estates in NJ.

Court

In New Jersey, the local Surrogate's Court handles estate matters. You can use this Surrogate's Court listing to find the appropriate court, or if you are using EstateExec and you enter the decedent's county of legal residence on the Decedent tab, you will see a direct link to the appropriate New Jersey Surrogates' Court here.

See also General Probate.

Copyright © 2014-24 EstateExec