A last will and testament, or will, is a legal document outlining who you want to receive your property and your burial wishes. You can also use a will to:
- Name a legal guardian to care for any minor children
- Leave your real estate to a loved one
- Leave your personal property, such as jewelry, collections or vehicles, to organizations or people
- Name an executor to make sure your wishes in the will are carried out
- Name a person to handle property you leave to your minor children
- Name a person to take care of your pet
New Jersey Last Will and Testament Laws
In New Jersey, it’s extremely important to create a last will and testament. Dying without a will is called intestacy. This means that New Jersey law, instead of you, determines how to distribute your property. Typically, it distributes your assets to your closet relatives such as a spouse, child or parent. If you’re single and your parents are deceased, New Jersey law chooses the next closest relative such as a sibling, aunt, cousin or possiblly your ex-spouse’s relatives. This could mean that your property ends up in the hands of someone you may not like.
Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith has a long history of success over the last 30 years in northern New Jersey. We will help you create your last will and testament so your last wishes are in writing and your property is given to the people or organizations you want.
Requirements for a Last Will and Testament
New Jersey requires that you’re at least 18 years old and are capable of making decisions. When creating a will, you’re considered the testator. You must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses. They must sign the will also. The state doesn’t require you to notarize your will.
However, New Jersey doesn’t allow you to:
- Will property you jointly own with someone else
- Change your beneficiary of your life insurance policy through your will (this must be done through the insurance company)
Changing a Last Will and Testament in NJ
If you already have a will and you want to make changes, New Jersey allows you to do so whenever you want. You may make changes through a new will or through a codicil. A new will or codicil outlines the new changes such as:
- Naming a new beneficiaries
- Naming a new executor
- Adding additional property to the estate
- Changing funeral and burial plans
You can also revoke a last will and testament in its entirety or in part. To revoke a last will and testament, you have to:
- Provide a subsequent will to replace the original
- Destroy the original will (burn, mutilate, obliterate, tear or cut)
New Jersey estate law is somewhat tricky. For instance, you may exclude your spouse from your will, but state law allows your spouse to take a portion of your estate within a specific period of time. It is called an elective share.
Whether you need to create a last will and testament or you need to modify or revoke one, Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith is ready to help you.