Heymann & Fletcher
October 03, 2022

Drafting Your Will

Practice Area: Estate Administration and Litigation | Tag: Legal Advice

Drafting your will can be an easy task to avoid for those who get chills thinking about the "why" behind needing such a document. However, a will is a vital source of information that expresses your wishes for your family, property, and more in the event of your death. And, not having a will can be a huge detriment for those you leave behind. While we know this can be uncomfortable, we have compiled the most critical information for you to begin your journey into drafting a will.

Wills in New Jersey

Technically, you do not need a lawyer to make your own will in New Jersey. But having a lawyer draft your will can save you from difficult situations such as contestation, disinheriting family, and more. The requirements for drafting your will are simply to be 18 years of age or older, of sound mind and body, and able to make your will on a hard copy. No audio, video, or other digital files (at least for the time being!) are acceptable. 

Here is a quick list of what you should consider when making a will in NJ:

  • Decide what property to include and who will inherit it. Property that is appropriate to put into a will includes real estate/buildings, stocks or bonds, business ownerships, copyrights or patents, cars, and more. You can also include a "residuary estate" which are assets not designated to anyone.
  • Choose an executor of said will. An Executor is the person who is in charge of filing your will with the court, paying off debts, closing accounts, and distributing assets. This person must be organized and trustworthy to not only take on these duties, but also since it can take up to 16 months to settle an estate.
  • Choosing a guardian for your children, if any. Picking the person or people you leave minor children with can be scary in itself, but choosing someone relies on trust, location, values, finances, capable age, and more. This is one main reason to have a rock solid will as nothing is as precious as your children!
  • Choosing someone to manage your children’s property, if applicable. This person, called a "custodian," steps in to manage various assets left to a child in a will. In many states, this is necessary for children under 21.

Planning for Asset Division

One of the biggest aspects people think about when drafting a will is what assets and beneficiaries to include. Assets can include gifts, percentages, or the residuary estate. You should not include information such as life insurance or financial assets – these are already taken care of by the companies that hold your policies. To better understand the policies on life insurance or financial assets, you should contact your specific provider.

Once finished with your will, you will have to sign in front of a witness and it is recommended to get it notarized because it will speed up probate without having to contact witnesses. Your will should be placed in a safe place or can even be deposited with New Jersey’s state will registry.

Benefits of Using a Lawyer to Draft Your Will

There are many rules and regulations for drafting a valid will that vary from state to state, so having a reliable lawyer on your side can help make the process accurate and smooth. We are willing and able to answer questions you may have come up during the process. Our decades of experience can ease your mind that you're getting top legal advice. Contact us today for a consultation.