Letters of Administration/Affidavits

When a person dies intestate, or without having a Will, the Surrogate must decide who will administer the estate.   The administration must be opened in the Courty where the decedent resided at his/her death.

The person who is seeking to qualify as Administrator must bring into the Surrogate's office a certified copy of the death certificate, a complete list of names and addresses of all immediate next of kin of the decedent, and an exact amount of every asset in the decedent's name alone. Your right to act as an Administrator is defined by law in the following relationship order:

  1. FIRST - Spouse of the decedent
  2. SECOND - Children of the decedent
  3. THIRD - Parents of the decedent
  4. FOURTH - Brothers and sisters of the decedent
  5. FIFTH - Children of a deceased brother or sister

Persons having a prior or equal right to act as Administrator under the law will be required to renounce their right to act. 

In most cases, a surety bond will be required in order to appoint an Administrator.  The purpose of the bond is to protect all heirs and creditors of the estate.  Pursuant to New Jersey statutes, N.J. S.A. 3B:15 15-1, the order of appointment includes a requirement that the Administrator post bond.  The Surrogate sets the bond amount based on the total amount of the estate.  The applicant may choose the insurance agency they wish to work with.  The bonding agency may require an attorney to represent the estate to assure payment of the bond premium.  The bond must be executed before the Administrator will be appointed.  Once the estate is closed and all the debt has been paid and the money has been distributed, a Refunding Bond and Release must be filled out by every beneficiary of the estate, including the Administrator, in order to get released from the bond.

If the applicant qualifies as the Administrator, Letters of Administration and a short certificate will be issued by the Surrogate.   A short certificate is the document the Administrator will use as proof of their authority to transfer or sell the decedent's assets.

If a suit for wrongful death is to be brought on behalf of an estate, an Administrator Ad Prosequendum must be named.  Most of the same requirments will apply for the person seeking to qualify as the Administrator Ad Prosequendum.

In Small Estates Administration can be avoided. 

  1. There is a procedure whereby the assets of the small estate can be transferred to the surviving spouse without the necessity of Administration.   An Affidaivit of Surviving Spouse can be issued to the surviving spouse if the decedent did not have a Will and the real and personal assets of the decedent do not exceed $50,000.00.
  2. A similar procedure is used when the decedent dies without a Will, leaving no surviving spouse, but does leave next of kin.  In such a case if the total value of the real and personal property of the decedent does not exceed $20,000.00 one of the next of kin, with the consent of the others, may file an Affidavit of Next of Kin in lieu of Administration.

The applicant seeking to qualifiy can come into the Gloucester County Surrogate's office anytime after the death occurs; however, the Surrogate cannot issue anything until the sixth day after death.  It is not necessary to make an appointment.  If you have any questions, please call 856-853-3282. 

Administration Fact Sheet

Information sheet that the person seeking to qualify for administration or the attorney can fill out. Click Here
The act of giving up a right. Click Here
Refunding Bond and Release
This form releases the Executor or Administrator from all claims and demands whatsoever in respect to the estate of the decedent. Click Here
The act of giving permission. Click Here