As you grow your family and career, the question of what happens when you pass becomes important to answer. No one wants to dwell on such a morbid topic, but there are practicalities to consider. Who will inherit your real estate and personal belongings? If you own a business, how will it continue without you? If you leave behind minor children without another parent, where will they go?
The most loving action you can take for your family and friends is to set out a plan for what happens when you are gone. Instead of leaving it for your spouse or children to figure out – and potentially argue over – you can have it all worked out already in a will.
What is a Will?
A will is a written document that states how your estate is to be distributed. You decide the people and organizations that are to receive money or specific items from your estate. You can also specify if certain assets should be sold and how your debts should be paid.
Why Having a Will Matters
Without a valid will at the time of your death, your estate must be divided according to New Jersey’s intestate succession laws. These laws determine your heirs and exactly how much of your property they receive. The preferences you mentioned during your life won’t matter to the court and will only be carried out if family and friends are able to do so themselves.
Additionally, intestate succession laws do not take business continuity or tax ramifications into consideration. By planning the distribution yourself, you can minimize the tax consequences on your family, friends, and business partners.
How to Create a Valid Will in New Jersey
To write a will in New Jersey that will be upheld in court, you must be at least 18 years old or a legally married minor and of sound mind, which means you are legally competent. The will must be written down and you have to sign it. You also need to have two witnesses who each sign it after seeing you sign the document. It is best if your witnesses are uninterested parties, meaning they do not receive gifts in your will. However, if they do receive gifts, the will and all its provisions are still valid under New Jersey law.
New Jersey will also uphold a will even if it is not witnessed, but only if it is in your handwriting and has your signature.
Receiving the Help of an Attorney
You can make a will on your own, but an experienced New Jersey lawyer can help you understand the practical, legal, and tax ramifications of your wishes. He or she will also ensure that any will you decide to create is valid.
If you are interested in making a will, call Jordan B. Rickards at (732) 297-8200 or use the online form to schedule a consultation.