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Who Can Apply for Administration?

The Laws in the State of New Jersey define who has the first right to apply for Administration of an estate.

General administration is used when a resident of New Jersey dies intestate (without a will). It is the duty of the heir or the person desiring original Letters of Administration to make application to the Surrogate of the county in which the intestate resided at death.

For intestate estates, heirs according to the statute of descent and distribution have priority

  1. spouse or registered domestic partner
  2. adult children of the decedent
  3. guardian of minor issue first entitled, if no surviving spouse or adult children
  4.  decedent’s parents
  5. brothers and sisters
  6. grandparents
  7. aunts and uncles
  8. cousins, first cousins, first cousins once removed, etc.
  9. stepchildren

Procedure for Appointment of Administrator in Surrogate’s Court

The applicant should appear in the Surrogate’s Office with:

  • Proof of death (Certified Death Certificate)
  • A detailed list of the assets in the deceased’s name.
  • Names & addresses of next of kin (heirs at law).

You will be interviewed by a probate clerk to obtain the necessary information on the estate and who is entitled to appointment, after which the clerk shall prepare the following for signature:

  • Application for administration
  • Affidavit of estate assets
  • Qualification / Authorization
  • Bond*
  • Renunciations or proof of notice
  • Verification of child support law
  • Request to seal death certificate

*A surety bond may be required on the estate; this is like an insurance policy. The bond will be set by the Surrogate when the assets of the estate are determined.

The applicant should inform the clerk as to how many assets stand in the name of the decedent alone, and request the short certificates needed to transfer those assets.

If renunciations are required from other persons having an equal right to be appointed Administrator, renunciation forms will be prepared by this office.

What you need to know before you apply

When these papers have been properly prepared and executed and 120 hours (5 days) have elapsed since the decedent’s death, the Surrogate may enter a judgment appointing the administrator and directing the issuance of Letters of Administration to the applicant or attorney. Once the Surrogate signs a judgment for Administration, it cannot be removed at the Surrogate’s Court level.

If the relatives with the same degree of kinship cannot agree on who should act, or the renunciations have not been returned, the applicant may ask that a hearing be set up on the Surrogate’s level (fee $10.00) to determine who will act as Administrator.

If additional assets are found after the initial judgment is signed and the administrator wishes to obtain a number of additional certificates, they will have to file an “Affidavit for Additional Funds”. When this occurs, the Administrator must present to the court a detailed account of the additional assets.

Minors who will inherit from an estate will need to have a guardian appointed to protect their right to inheritance. 

Creditors and minors who are receiving from an estate

If there are no next of kin, any fit person or anyone who is owed a debt from the estate has the right to apply after 40 days have passed. The person who paid for the funeral expenses or the landlord who is owed back rent would have a right to apply for Administration.

This would require that the applicant present to the court valid proof of their claim. The Clerk would set up a hearing and the Attorney General would be noticed; a date would be set and the hearing would occur on the Surrogate’s Level. There is a $10.00 fee for a hearing.

Minors who will inherit from an estate need to have a guardian appointed to protect their right to inheritance. Please call the office for more information.


An Affidavit of Surviving Spouse or Next of Kin can only be used when the decedent died without a Will. The rules for the affidavit are similar however, the amounts vary. In the case of a Surviving Spouse the limit for an affidavit is $50,000.00 for the Next of Kin it is $20,000.00.

  • Surviving Spouse – would be the only one entitled to inherit and file this application. The application must specifically state the depository of the asset, the value and any identifying numbers.  You will receive one letter for each asset
  • Next of Kin – this would include anyone entitled to inherit by intestacy law. If there is more than one individual, consents must be obtained from the other beneficiaries. The affidavit must once again include the depository of the asset, the value and any identifying numbers. The entire value of the estate must not exceed $20,000.00.

In both cases the applicants will be swearing under oath that there is no Last Will and Testament of the deceased and that they are the closest next of kin.  All degrees of kinship should be listed (in the case of a spouse, children of the decedent will be listed.

For Next of Kin you should include the relationship to the deceased.  All consents must be signed in front of a Notary Public and acknowledged with the expiration date of commission and the seal of the Notary.