How are assets distributed/debts paid if someone dies without a Will?

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How are assets distributed/debts paid if someone dies without a Will?

I am looking into more information about the estate process with no Will. An administrator was appointed to the estate. I read that in NJ you are only liable for debts up to the amount of the assets. Is that true? If so, the house is going through a short sale so the amount the mortgage company appraises it at would be the value of that asset(the house) correct? There are also 2 cars that the eventual beneficiary is driving. The administrator is responsible for keeping up the value of all the assets and has made the decision that this is the best way.

Asked on August 5, 2011 New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss.  You have many questions here and I will try and guide you as best that I can but you may need to seek legal counsel in your area for some of them.  Now, when a person dies without a Will it is known as dying "intestate."  each state has a set of laws known as intestacy statutes and the govern who gets what and in what order.  You can google it on line for New Jersey.  Now, a short sale means that you are selling a house for less than the mortgage.  But what remains is known as a deficiency and the lender can indeed take a deficiency judgement against the estate unless the Administrator gets them to agree to waive it.  If they do not the Administrator then has to worry about selling other assets to pay the debts.  That could be the cars.  And the Administrator should NOT be allowing the intended beneficiaries of the vehicles to drive them while the estate is still responsible for them.  There are liability issues.  Please get a lawyer to help with all of this.  Good luck.


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