Estate Administration to Pursue Legal Claims – Part 2
In last week’s post I referred to a recent case in our office in which an administrator ad prosequendum was needed with respect to an estate whose only potential asset was a legal claim for damages resulting from a wrongful death. Not knowing how much might be recovered and there being no other estate asset, appointing an administrator for the limited purpose of pursuing the claim is the best option.
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.
The persons entitled serve are those closest in relation to the intestate. First right would be the surviving spouse or domestic partner, if any, and then the remaining heirs or some of them. In our case there was no surviving spouse or partner but there were four children. Since each would have equal 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.
The attorney who called, told us that his client, a son, would agree to serve but that he did not think we could get renunciations so we filed an application on notice to the other children. No one opposed our application and we obtained letters of administration ad prosequendum which allowed the attorney to settle the claim. The son signed the paperwork accepting the settlement and proceeds were paid.
Because his appointment was for the limited purpose of resolving the claim, a general administrator now needed to be appointed to administer the assets. Next week we’ll cover that.