How to Make a Will in New Jersey

Are you wondering how to make a will in New Jersey?

A will is important to ensure your final wishes are known and to secure peace of mind for you and your family. While the process of drafting a will in New Jersey may initially seem daunting, a comprehensive plan for your assets upon death can allow you to be at ease as you have protected the financial security of your loved ones.

It is beneficial to have this vital document completed so everyone knows exactly how things should be handled after passing away.

This blog outlines the steps necessary to create a legally binding will and gives helpful advice along the way, so preparing for your family’s life after death doesn’t have to be a daunting task – instead, it can be seen as part of taking responsibility for providing ease and comfort during hard times.

Do you want to ensure your will is drawn up to meet your goals and comply New Jersey’s legal requirements? Call us at 201-389-8275 or visit the Contact Us page for attorney assistance with your will.

Step 1: Consult With a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney

An experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney can provide you with tailored advice based on your individual situation. They can explain the laws in New Jersey will and estate law to ensure your wishes are respected after you pass. A qualified attorney will ensure that all necessary documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, health care directives, etc., are properly drawn up and executed.

Another important reason to hire an estate planning attorney is if you have complicated assets or liabilities. If you have a large amount of assets or debts, it’s important to make sure they’re properly managed in order to maximize the value of your estate for future generations. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to advise you on how best to do this.

Finally, if there is potential for conflict between family members regarding how assets should be distributed upon your death, it’s critical to get legal advice from someone who is impartial and who has experience dealing with these types of issues. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide objective advice and guidance on how best to resolve and prevent conflicts before they arise.

Ultimately, hiring an estate planning attorney provides peace of mind knowing that everything has been taken care of by a trained legal professional. This way, when the time comes for your loved ones to carry out those wishes after you’ve passed away, there won’t be any confusion or disputes over what should happen next.

Contact us at (201) 389-8275 or e-mail to work with experienced legal counsel to ensure your will and estate plan a drawn up and executed to meet your goals.

Step 2: Inventorying the Estate’s Assets and Debts

When creating a will, it’s important to ensure all your assets and debts are accounted for. Not only will this ensure your will is more effective, but it will allow future estate administrators to be up to speed on both tangible and intangible goods and any outstanding debt obligations that wil lbe involved as part of the administration process. Let’s review how best to inventory your assets and debts including tips on what you should look out for, record-keeping methods, and legal considerations.

Gather Documents. The first step in creating an inventory is gathering documents pertaining to your assets and debts. These documents include deeds or titles for any real estate, account statements, car titles or registrations, stock certificates or investments accounts, life insurance policies and contracts, tax returns from the past five years, and bank or brokerage account statements. It should also include any written agreements they you may have had with other parties such as trusts or partnership agreements. 

Organize Documents. Once all documents have been gathered together, organize them into categories such as assets (real and personal property), liabilities (debts), income sources (including Social Security benefits) and investments (including retirement accounts). This organization will help you keep track of everything when making your inventory list. 

Create Inventory List. Once all documents have been gathered and organized into categories it is time to create an inventory list that details each asset along with its estimated value as well as each debt and its outstanding balance due on it. This list will be used to design your will so accuracy is key here; make sure that you double check all information.

Creating an inventory of a deceased person’s estate can seem overwhelming but understanding what is involved makes the process much easier and more manageable for beneficiaries. Gather all relevant documents together and organize them into categories for easy reference then create your comprehensive inventory list with accurate values attached to each item listed on it.

Here is a helpful list of assets to make sure to account for in your planning:

Income Assets Lists

  • Salary, commission, and bonus
  • Dividends and interest
  • Net real estate income
  • Partnership income
  • Other income

Liquid Assets List

  • Savings Accounts
  • Checking accounts
  • Certificates of deposit / money market accounts
  • U.S. government Securities
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Mortgages or notes

Other Assets

  • Primary residence
  • Vacation home
  • Investment real estate
  • Interest in closely held companies or investments
  • Automobiles and physical property
  • Life insurance policies

Step 3: Select Your Beneficiaries

Selecting beneficiares for your last will and testament is an important part of estate planning and requires deliberate thought and careful consideration. It is essential to consider both who you want to receive your assets as well as how much you want them to receive.

The first step in selecting beneficiaries for your will is determining who can be a beneficiary. Generally speaking, anyone can be named as a beneficiary, including family members, friends, charities, or even organizations such as churches or universities. In certain cases, trusts or entities such as businesses may also be named beneficiaries of a will.

Understanding the Types of Beneficiaries. When selecting beneficiaries for your will, it is important to understand the types of beneficiaries that exist. There are three main types of beneficiaries: primary (or direct) beneficiaries; contingent (or indirect) beneficiaries; and residual (or remainder) beneficiaries.

  • Primary or direct beneficiaries directly receive assets from the estate upon its dissolution
  • Contingent or indirect beneficiaries only receive assets if specific conditions are met (i.e., if the primary beneficiary predeceases).
  • Residual or remainder beneficiaries receive assets leftover after all other distributions have been made.

Decide How Much Each Beneficiary Should Receive. Once you have determined who can be a beneficiary and what type each one should be classified as, it is time to decide how much each beneficiary should receive from the estate. This is where estate planning comes in handy; with proper planning and advice from an experienced attorney or financial advisor you can ensure that each beneficiary receives their fair share without jeopardizing any other aspects of your estate plan. Additionally, you may also want to consider setting up trusts for certain individual’s inheritances so that they cannot access their inheritance until they reach a certain age or until certain conditions have been met.

Step 4: Choose an Executor of the Estate

When creating a will, one of the most important decisions you will make is who to designate as the executor. This person will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are followed after your death and that your estate is distributed according to your instructions.

Choosing someone who is trustworthy and reliable is essential. Here are some tips on how to choose an executor.

Choosing Someone You Trust. The first step in choosing an executor is finding someone you trust implicitly and whose judgement you value. The ideal candidate should be mature and able to handle complex financial matters calmly and responsibly. While it can be tempting to name a family member or close friend, remember that this person will have access to all of your financial information, so it’s best if they are financially savvy too.

Choosing Someone Who Is Available. The executor of your will should also be available. If you name someone who lives far away or doesn’t have much time on their hands due to work or family commitments, then they may not be able to fulfill their duties properly—which could lead to delays or even legal problems down the road. It’s therefore important that you pick somebody who has enough time and energy to carry out this role effectively.

Consider Professional Help. Finally, keep in mind that if none of your friends or family members meet all these requirements then you could consider appointing a professional executor instead. These individuals are experienced in managing estates and can ensure everything runs smoothly after your death—allowing your loved ones peace of mind during what can often be an emotionally fraught time.

Step 5: Execute a Valid Will

Step 5 - Executing the Will

To ensure that your will is legally binding, it must adhere to the guidelines set out by New Jersey state law. Understanding these requirements is key to ensuring that your will meets all necessary criteria. Let’s take a look at what makes a valid will in the state of New Jersey.

Age Requirement. In order to make a legally binding will, you must be 18 years of age or older. In some cases, individuals as young as 16 may enter into contracts with parental consent. However, this does not apply to wills; only those who are 18 years of age or older may make a valid will in New Jersey.

Witnesses. A witnessed signature is mandatory for any last will and testament in New Jersey. This means that two witnesses must sign the document attesting to the fact that you (the testator) signed it voluntarily and without coercion or undue influence from another party. In New Jersey – unlike other states – witnesses may even be beneficiaries listed in the will, even though they have a financial interest in the outcome.

Capacity Requirement. Any individual making a last will and testament must possess sound mental capacity when signing it in order for it to be considered legally binding. This means that they understand what they are signing and are capable of making rational decisions based on their own free will without being under any sort of duress or manipulation from another party. If there is any question about your mental capacity at the time of signing, then it could result in questions about the validity of your last will and testament if challenged after your death.

N.J.S.A. 3B:3-2 provides the requirements for the formal execution of a will. It provides, in its entirety “Except as provided in N.J.S. 3B:3-3, every will shall be in writing, signed by the testator or in his name by some other person in his presence and at his direction, and shall be signed by at least two persons each of whom witnessed either the signing or the testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or of the will.”

Step 6: Store Your Will in a Secure Location

Step 6 - Store Will in a Secure Location

Making a will is an important step when it comes to protecting your assets and ensuring that your wishes are honored after you pass away. But once a will is written, it needs to be carefully stored in order for it to be valid. Here are a few tips for safely and securely storing your will.

Store the Original Document in a Safe Place. Your original will should be stored in a safe place such as a safety deposit box or fireproof safe at home.It’s important that the document remains undamaged and unaltered in order for it to be legally valid. You should also make sure that only you or another trusted person (such as an attorney) knows where the original document is located.

Make Multiple Copies. While the original document should remain safe and secure, you should also make copies of the will so that it can easily be accessed by those who need it. You may want to keep one copy with your estate planning attorney or financial planner, and give additional copies to family members or other trusted individuals who may need access to the document after you’ve passed away.

Instructions for Accessing the Will. Once you have securely stored the originals and made copies, you should provide instructions on how these documents can be accessed after you’re gone. This includes providing contact information for an attorney or financial planner who can help with accessing the documents if necessary. It’s also important to include instructions on how to access any safety deposit boxes or other secure locations where documents might be stored.

Storing your will properly is an essential part of making sure that your final wishes are respected after you’ve passed away. Be sure to store originals in secure locations, make multiple copies, and provide clear instructions on how others can access them if needed. By taking these steps now, you can ensure that your estate is handled according to your wishes even after you’re gone.

Consider the New Jersey Will Registry. The New Jersey will registry is a secure online database that allows individuals to store their last will and testament in the cloud. This service provides protection from loss, theft, or destruction of the document as well as peace of mind knowing that your wishes are securely stored for easy access by those who need it. By registering your will with the state, you can be sure that your loved ones have quick and easy access to your final wishes after you pass away. The registry also helps to reduce legal costs associated with probate proceedings by providing evidence of valid wills in cases where there may have been any question about its validity. All New Jersey residents should consider taking advantage of this free service when setting up their estate plans.

Step 7: Update Your Will

Step 7 - Update Your Will

Once you have created a will in New Jersey, review it periodically (at least every few years) and update it as needed.

Reasons to update a will vary, but they include changes in your life or financial circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or grandchild, the death of an intended heir, changes to tax laws that may impact your will’s beneficiaries, or if you experience any major life events since writing your initial will. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you make these decisions and ensure that all paperwork is correctly filed.

In addition to periodic updates for major life changes, you should also review and revise your will every three to five years as a general rule. This way, you can be sure that it still reflects your current wishes regarding how your assets should be distributed after death.

Finally, if you move to a different state, it’s important to contact an estate planning lawyer familiar with the laws of the new jurisdiction. That way, you can ensure that your will is still valid and adheres to that state’s regulations. If not, you may need to write a new will completely or update the existing one for compliance. Your attorney can also advise on other legal matters such as setting up trusts, creating power of attorney documents and more.

To recap, we’ve discussed seven essential steps on how to make a will in New Jersey. This include consulting with a qualified attorney, inventorying the estates assets and debts, selecting beneficiaries, choosing an executor for the estate, executing a valid will, storing your will in a secure location, and updating your will on a regular basis. Following these steps carefully and diligently will help ensure that your legacy is secured and protected.

We understand creating an estate plan can be overwhelming but dedicated legal professionals at our law firm are here to help guide you through this process. This allows you to rest easy knowing that your wishes are respected even when you are no longer here. Contact our law firm today to get started on protecting your family’s future.

Call us at 201-389-8275 or visit the Contact Us page for assistance with preparation for your last will and testament. Note: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should contact an attorney for advice on any particular legal matter.