Okay, so, everyone probably already knows what a will is. If you’ve been around long enough, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of one. For those who may not be familiar, let’s talk a little about what a will is and why it’s handy to have one.
What is a Will?
The most basic of basic definitions is this: A will is a piece of paper (or multiple pieces) that tells everybody who gets what when you kick the bucket. If done right, it should name an executor/rix, and also an alternate, just in case the first person doesn’t want to step up. It should name a trustee if a trust is available, and also a Guardian to take care of any minor children.
It should also state that anyone named in it should not be required to post a bond for their position, as well as specific inheritances and determine how the rest of the stuff (including the estate) should be divided up.
How Can I Have a Will?
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Can I have a will? And the good news is yes, you can! Just as long as you’re over the age of eighteen. You just need two people who are at least eighteen too to sign it with you as witnesses. If it’s done right, you shouldn’t have any issues with proving it, as it will become self-proving with the signatures by the same witnesses as well as that of a notary public.
Why Do I Need a Will?
That’s great and all, right? But why do you even need one in the first place? I’m glad you asked! As stated earlier, a will helps people know who gets what from all your piles of stuff. If you don’t have a will, there could be arguments and all sorts of unpleasant things can happen, so it’s better to have one than not. But, it’s even better to have one that is done properly.
After the will is executed, any changes should be made through either a codicil or an entirely new will. Any markings, cross-outs or handwritten changes can leave the Surrogate unable to act and force probate in the Superior Court.
Finally, the personal representative named in the will also have a list of responsibilities. These include:
- Locating and performing an inventory of all the estate’s assets
- Paying outstanding debts
- Filing appropriate inheritance or income tax returns
- Having necessary paperwork ready for the transferring of property
- Paying any and all fees
- Opening and maintaining an estate checking account
- And finally, disbursing estate funds to beneficiaries and filing refunding bonds and releases, which are documents that show someone received his or her inheritance
According to Justin Scott, a New Jersey estate planning attorney, “death and all that comes with it is a confusing enough time for anyone.” When mourning a loved one, the last thing anyone needs is to be confused by things they don’t necessarily understand or, quite frankly, care about. This is where we step in. We can assist you in figuring things out and, hopefully, alleviate some of your burden.”
Contact our New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer to Learn More
If you have any questions or concerns about drafting or executing a will in New Jersey, please call Scott Counsel or fill out our contact form. Our New Jersey Wills & Trusts lawyers are here to help guide you along the process to give your family the peace of mind they need.