What to do when someone dies without any assets?

UPDATED: Jun 15, 2011

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What to do when someone dies without any assets?

My mother is in a nursing home and doing poorly. We sold her house to pay for her care. When she passes all she will have left behind are bank accounts of which my sister and I are joint owners, and some life insurance. She has no outstanding debts aside from nursing home fees. Will we still have to go through the probate process?

Asked on June 15, 2011 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In NJ you can file for what is known as a "Next of Kin Affidavit" if the estate in question is under $10,000 and the deceased dies without a Will. This is an expedited and simplified probate process. Even though there are little to no assets since creditors are involved this should be done. You can get more information from the Surrogate's Court in the county where she is domiciled.

Note: Any life insurance proceeds or jointly held accounts are not included since they pass directly to the beneficiaries/joint account holders.

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