How to Pursue Legal Claims in an Estate Administration

HNWEstate Administration and Probate

wrongful deathWe recently received a call from a personal injury attorney in need of help.  The attorney had pursued a wrongful death claim on behalf of the children of their father who died in motor vehicle accident.  Their father had no assets at the time of his death and in fact was a Medicaid recipient.

Because, in wrongful death actions, there typically is a claim brought by the estate in addition to one by individual family members, an executor or administrator needs to be appointed to pursue – or prosecute – the claim on behalf of the estate.  Dad left no will, however, so no executor could be appointed.

Without estate assets, generally no administrator is appointed because there is no need for one if the decedent at time of death had no assets so there is no reason to go thru the estate administration process except at times, someone may be needed to sign necessary documents and make decisions about a legal claim on behalf of the estate.

Enter someone called an administrator ad prosequendum. An administrator is appointed for the limited purpose of prosecuting a claim on behalf of the estate.  Unlike a general administrator, no bond is needed since there is no money to protect just yet so the administrator avoids needing to pay an insurance premium – at least until any money is received.

So what is the process and who can be appointed administrator ad prosequendum?  New Jersey court rules establish that the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the intestate (person who died without a will) resided or, if not a New Jersey resident, the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the accident resulting in the death occurred grants letters of administration ad prosequendum.

Since a spouse or biological children have the right to serve, anyone not wishing to serve needs to sign a renunciation.  Alternatively, an application by the person wanting to serve must be made on notice to all other interested persons who would have an opportunity to submit support or opposition to the application.

To discuss your NJ estate administration matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Estate Administration Attorney

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