With no will, does my ex’s new wife get an inheritance?

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Q. The father of my three children died with no will. We were divorced. He owns a house and was married in the Philippines about two years ago but his new wife has not been given entrance to the U.S. What happens to his estate?
— Confused

A. There are a few issues to consider here.

First, when a New Jersey resident dies without a will, the distribution of the estate assets are governed by New Jersey’s intestacy statute.

“Under this law, if the deceased person had children who are not the children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive the first 25 percent of the estate but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000 plus one-half of the balance of the estate,” said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

Also under New Jersey law, aliens are not disqualified from inheriting assets, she said.

That means your ex-husband’s wife in the Philippines does not need to be physically present in New Jersey to inherit assets from her husband, she said.

“If the deceased person owned property in the Philippines, the distribution of those assets would be governed by the laws of that country,” she said.

Your children could be in line for an inheritance, though. Learn more about that here.

If there is no one handling your ex’s estate, you should speak to an estate planning attorney and the surrogate’s office in the county where he lived to see what next steps can be taken.

Email your questions to moc.p1573567478leHye1573567478noMJN1573567478@ksA1573567478.

This story was originally published on Aug. 28, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.