I live outside of the U.S. My dad died in New Jersey this past weekend. I would like to know if I´m entitled to any benfits he might´ve had.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Condolences on your loss.
It depends on what his will provides, if he had a will. And if he didn't have a will, under the law governing intestate estates, you would have a share of assets, after debts and taxes are paid.
If you have family in the U.S., they might probate the will or otherwise open an estate, and you should receive written notice. If you are the only surviving heir, you will need a lawyer and an other representative in New Jersey to help you administer the estate.
You may contact the Surrogate's Office in the county where your father resided to find out if an estate has been opened, and also ask what you can do so that you will be given notice by the Surrogate's Office if someone does try to open an estate. You will be able to find out if an estate has been opened, by whom, and if a will has been filed.
THIS RESPONSE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, SINCE I DO NOT HAVE ALL OF THE INFORMATION THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED, AND I DO NOT HAVE A REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT WITH YOU.
* If the answers to your question confirm that you have a valid issue or worthwhile claim, your next step should almost always be to establish a dialog with a lawyer who can provide specific advice to you. Contact a lawyer in your county or township.
* Another reason for contacting a lawyer is that it is often impossible to give a good answer in the Internet Q&A format without having more information. The unique circumstances of your situation and things that you may not have thought to mention in your question may completely change the answer. If you want to be sure that you have a complete answer to your question and an understanding of what that answer means, establish a connection with a lawyer who practices in the area of your concern.
I agree with Miriam. However, I would need to know if there was a Will or Dad passed without one. A Will controls and children may be disinherited. All children are covered by the intestacy statute, if he died without a Will. Was Dad married and was his wife living? Also, how were his assets registered - individually or jointly with someone? A Will only acts upon assets owned individually. Jointly registered assets usually go to the surviving joint owner. Also, did any assets, like life insurance policies and/or retirement benefits, have a designated beneficiary who survived Dad? These assets go to the designated beneficiary. Nothing can be done before 10 days elapse, so wait a while before contacting the Surrogate's office to see what has been done. The Surrogate can advise you what has been done, who applied for what (Will or Administration) and who the estate's attorney is, if there is one. You should be notifed when something happens, but a call or letter to the Surrogate will be sure. More information is needed, as noted above, for a more complete response to your question. This is a response to an Internet question and the reply is not intended to be legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship.