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New Jersey Intestacy Laws

The following are excerpts from New Jersey’s intestacy laws. Please reference the full body of New Jersey’s probate and intestate laws for any changes to those laws that may not be reflected below. (Choose the “Statutes” link and use that site’s “search” feature)

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New Jersey Intestate Laws

TITLE 3B ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES–DECEDENTS AND OTHERS

3B:1-1 Definitions A to H.
“Child” means any individual, including a natural or adopted child, entitled to take by intestate succession from the parent whose relationship is involved and excludes any individual who is only a stepchild, a resource family child, a grandchild or any more remote descendant.

“Descendant” of an individual means all of his progeny of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definition of child contained in this section and parent contained in N.J.S.3B:1-2.

“Domestic partner” means a domestic partner as defined in section 3 of P.L.2003, c.246 (C.26:8A-3).

“Estate” means all of the property of a decedent, minor or incapacitated individual, trust or other person whose affairs are subject to this title as the property is originally constituted and as it exists from time to time during administration.

“Heirs” means those persons, including, but not limited to, the surviving spouse, the domestic partner and the descendants of the decedent, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent.

3B:1-2 Definitions I to Z.
“Issue” of an individual means a descendant as defined in N.J.S.3B:1-1.

“Parent” means any person entitled to take or who would be entitled to take if the child, natural or adopted, died without a will, by intestate succession from the child whose relationship is in question and excludes any person who is a stepparent, resource family parent, or grandparent.

“Per capita.” If a governing instrument requires property to be distributed “per capita,” the property is divided to provide equal shares for each of the takers, without regard to their shares or the right of representation.

“Per Stirpes.” If a governing instrument requires property to be distributed “per stirpes,” the property is divided into as many equal shares as there are: (1) surviving children of the designated ancestor; and (2) deceased children who left surviving descendants. Each surviving child is allocated one share. The share of each deceased child with surviving descendants is divided in the same manner, with subdivision repeating at each succeeding generation until the property is fully allocated among surviving descendants.

“Representation; Per Capita at Each Generation.” If an applicable statute or a governing instrument requires property to be distributed “by representation” or “per capita at each generation,” the property is divided into as many equal shares as there are: (1) surviving descendants in the generation nearest to the designated ancestor which contains one or more surviving descendants; and (2) deceased descendants in the same generation who left surviving descendants, if any. Each surviving descendant in the nearest generation is allocated one share. The remaining shares, if any, are combined and then divided in the same manner among the surviving descendants of the deceased descendants, as if the surviving descendants who were allocated a share and their surviving descendants had predeceased the designated ancestor.

“Stepchild” means a child of the surviving, deceased, or former spouse who is not a child of the decedent.




3B:1-3 Devolution of property upon death.
3B:1-3. Upon the death of an individual, his real and personal property devolves to the persons to whom it is devised by his will or to those indicated as substitutes for them in cases involving lapse, renunciation, or other circumstances affecting the devolution of testate estates, or in the absence of testamentary disposition, to his heirs, or to those indicated as substitutes for them in cases involving renunciation or other circumstances affecting devolution of intestate estates, subject to rights of creditors and to administration.

3B:5-1 Requirement that heir survive decedent by 120 hours.
3B:5-1. For the purposes of intestate succession an individual who is not established by clear and convincing evidence to have survived the decedent by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the decedent. This section is not to be applied where its application would result in a taking of intestate estate by the State.

3B:5-2 Intestate estate.
3B:5-2. a. Any part of the decedent’s estate not effectively disposed of by his will passes by intestate succession to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed in N.J.S.3B:5-3 through N.J.S.3B:5-14, except as modified by the decedent’s will.

3B:5-3. Intestate share of decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner.
The intestate share of the surviving spouse or domestic partner is:

a.The entire intestate estate if:
(1)No descendant or parent of the decedent survives the decedent; or

(2)All of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse or domestic partner and there is no other descendant of the surviving spouse or domestic partner who survives the decedent;

b.The first 25% of the intestate estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus three-fourths of any balance of the intestate estate, if no descendant of the decedent survives the decedent, but a parent of the decedent survives the decedent;

c.The first 25% of the intestate estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus one-half of the balance of the intestate estate:
(1)If all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse or domestic partner and the surviving spouse or domestic partner has one or more surviving descendants who are not descendants of the decedent; or

(2)If one or more of the decedent’s surviving descendants is not a descendant of the surviving spouse or domestic partner.

3B:5-4 Intestate shares of heirs other than surviving spouse or domestic partner.
Any part of the intestate estate not passing to the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner under N.J.S.3B:5-3, or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner, passes in the following order to the individuals designated below who survive the decedent:

a.To the decedent’s descendants by representation;

b. If there are no surviving descendants, to the decedent’s parents equally if both survive, or to the surviving parent, except as provided in section 4 of P.L.2009, c.43 (C.3B:5-14.1);

c.If there are no surviving descendants or parent, to the descendants of the decedent’s parents or either of them by representation;

d.If there is no surviving descendant, parent or descendant of a parent, but the decedent is survived by one or more grandparents, half of the estate passes to the decedent’s paternal grandparents equally if both survive, or to the surviving paternal grandparent, or to the descendants of the decedent’s paternal grandparents or either of them if both are deceased, the descendants taking by representation; and the other half passes to the decedent’s maternal relatives in the same manner; but if there is no surviving grandparent, or descendant of a grandparent on either the paternal or the maternal side, the entire estate passes to the decedent’s relatives on the other side in the same manner as the half;

e.If there is no surviving descendant, parent, descendant of a parent, or grandparent, but the decedent is survived by one or more descendants of grandparents, the descendants take equally if they are all of the same degree of kinship to the decedent, but if of unequal degree those of more remote degree take by representation;

f.If there are no surviving descendants of grandparents, then the decedent’s step-children or their descendants by representation.




3B:5-6 Determining representation.
3B:5-6. a. As used in this section:
(1)”Deceased descendant,” “deceased parent,” or “deceased grandparent” means a descendant, parent or grandparent who either predeceased the decedent or is deemed to have predeceased the decedent under N.J.S.3B:5-1.

(2)”Surviving descendant” means a descendant who neither predeceased the decedent nor is deemed to have predeceased the decedent under N.J.S.3B:5-1.

b.If, under N.J.S.3B:5-4, a decedent’s intestate estate or part thereof passes “by representation” to the decedent’s descendants, the estate or part thereof is divided into as many equal shares as there are: (1) surviving descendants in the generation nearest to the decedent which contains one or more surviving descendants; and (2) deceased descendants in the same generation who left surviving descendants, if any. Each surviving descendant in the nearest generation is allocated one share. The remaining shares, if any, are combined and then divided in the same manner among the surviving descendants of the deceased descendants as if the surviving descendants who were allocated a share and their surviving descendants had predeceased the decedent.

c.If, under section c. or d. of N.J.S.3B:5-4, a decedent’s intestate estate or a part thereof passes “by representation” to the descendants of the decedent’s deceased parents or either of them or to the descendants of the decedent’s deceased paternal or maternal grandparents or either of them, the estate or part thereof is divided into as many equal shares as there are: (1) surviving descendants in the generation nearest the deceased parents or either of them, or the deceased grandparents or either of them, that contains one or more surviving descendants; and (2) deceased descendants in the same generation who left surviving descendants, if any. Each surviving descendant in the nearest generation is allocated one share. The remaining shares, if any, are combined and then divided in the same manner among the surviving descendants of the deceased descendants as if the surviving descendants who were allocated a share, and their surviving descendants had predeceased the decedent.

3B:5-7. Relatives of the half blood
Relatives of the half blood inherit the same share they would inherit if they were of the whole blood.

3B:5-8 After born heirs.
An individual in gestation at a particular time is treated as living at that time if the individual lives 120 hours or more after birth.

3B:5-9 Adopted child.
3B:5-9. If, for the purposes of intestate succession, a relationship of parent and child must be established to determine succession by, through or from an individual, the relationships and rights of a minor adopted child shall be those as provided in section 14 of P.L.1977, c.367 (C.9:3-50), and the relationships and rights of an adopted adult shall be as provided in N.J.S.2A:22-3.

3B:5-10 Establishment of Parent-Child Relationship.
3B:5-10. If, for the purposes of intestate succession, a relationship of parent and child must be established to determine succession by, through, or from an individual, in cases not covered by N.J.S.3B:5-9, an individual is the child of the individual’s parents regardless of the marital state of the individual’s parents, and the parent and child relationship may be established as provided by the “New Jersey Parentage Act,” P.L.1983, c.17 (C.9:17-38 et seq.). The parent and child relationship may be established for purposes of this section regardless of the time limitations set forth in subsection b. of section 8 of P.L.1983, c.17 (C.9:17-45).