Hamilton Wills Lawyer
Hamilton Wills Lawyer
Even without a legal background, you are probably aware of the basics of what a will does and how it works to handle a person’s final affairs at death. However, the details are much more complex. To start, there are very specific requirements for execution under the New Jersey statute on wills. Errors or omissions could thwart your plans and lead to an outcome you never intended. Plus, a will is a fundamental estate planning document meant to cover a wide range of circumstances and family situations. Unless you create a will that is the right fit and aligns with your wishes, you do a disservice to your legacy and may create challenges for loved ones.
With help from a skilled estate planning attorney, it is possible to avoid disastrous mistakes and achieve multiple objectives through your will. The team at Scott Counsel, P.C. has decades of combined experience advising clients on the benefits, backed by in-depth knowledge of the applicable laws. We can counsel you on options to include in your will, and we are prepared to guide you in executing the document following statutory requirements. Please contact our firm to set up a consultation with a Hamilton wills lawyer today. You might also find it useful to review some of the basics.
Goals You Can Accomplish Via Your Will
One of the most important aspects of your will is the person you choose as executor to handle the administration of your estate. You should always name someone you trust, and who you believe would be able and willing to take on the position. Married couples typically choose each other, while unmarried individuals should consider another loved one or close friend. You should also include a successor executor who can step into the role if needed.
Your executor is the person that essentially steps into your shoes to take care of the tasks required by law and provisions within the will. Through this document, you can achieve many different objectives, including:
- Giving specific bequests to beneficiaries, such as treasured collections, heirlooms, and jewelry;
- Designating beneficiaries who will receive the residue of your estate, which is what is left over after specific bequests and paying creditors;
- Nominating someone to act as the guardian of minor children, though keep in mind that this still requires court approval;
- Providing financial support and care for a beloved pet;
- Distributing assets you own as an individual into a living trust that you created and funded before passing, which you can accomplish via a “pour over” will; and
- Waiving the surety bond requirement for your executor, a requirement that can be costly.
Without a will, New Jersey intestacy laws take control over your estate. The court will appoint a personal representative based upon preferences listed in the statute. A surviving spouse has priority, but the position could be opened up to any of your heirs. State intestacy laws also dictate how your estate is distributed. Surviving spouses, children, parents, and siblings may inherit according to different percentages defined by law.
Legal Requirements for Wills in New Jersey
Considering the importance of your last will and testament, you can guess that there are strict rules you must follow to ensure it is legally effective. Some laws address your capacity as a testator, as well as the circumstances underlying the execution of the will. Only adults aged 18 or older, who are of sound mind, may create a will. In addition:
- All wills must be in writing, though a court may recognize a will in the testator’s handwriting if it can be verified through supporting evidence.
- The testator must sign in his or her handwriting, or the will must be signed by someone else at the direction of the testator.
- The will must also be signed by at least two individuals as disinterested witnesses.
It is not necessary to notarize a New Jersey will, but it is highly recommended that you include a “self-proving” affidavit. This document is signed by the testator and witnesses, all within each other’s presence; all signatures are also notarized. With a self-proving affidavit, your loved ones will not need the witnesses to go to court to testify about the execution of your will.
Scott Counsel, P.C. handles all aspects of will preparation, including consulting with you, drawing up a draft, and reviewing each provider to ensure it meets your expectations. Once finalized, our Hamilton wills attorneys take care of witnesses, signatures, and notarization to comply with the statutory requirements.
Wills Versus Other Estate Planning Documents
Your will is an important component of an estate plan, but there can be some confusion regarding the other documents you might consider. The following points may clear things up:
- A will is not the same as a living will, which is a document you prepare to indicate your preferences regarding end-of-life care.
- You might consider a living trust to work alongside your will, in which case you would prepare the pour-over will be described above. A living trust offers the benefits of privacy and can be used to avoid probate when properly structured. With a living trust, you can also maintain long-term control over distributions to beneficiaries who may not have the financial maturity to handle an inheritance.
- Besides a will, there are other estates planning documents that take effect even before your passing. A durable power of attorney enables you to appoint an agent to manage your real estate personal property, and other financial matters if you become incapacitated. A healthcare advance directive works similarly, so you can name someone to make decisions regarding medical care and treatment on your behalf.
Speak to a Hamilton Wills Lawyer for Details on Your Options
While an overview of the basics is helpful, this information should convince you that retaining skilled legal counsel is critical for ensuring your will achieves the estate planning goals you intend. For more information, please call Scott Counsel, P.C. at (856) 672-7248 or visit us online to schedule a consultation. One of our New Jersey wills attorneys can explain relevant concepts after learning more about your circumstances.
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