New Jersey requirements for a will

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What Are The Estate Planning Laws In New Jersey That Are Relevant To Me

When you die, you can’t take any of your possessions with you, which means that you need to arrange to will them to people who are close to you. These possessions include personal property (such as cars, clothing, jewelry, etc.) and real estate properties. If you plan ahead, you will be able to ensure that those people whom you wish to inherit assets from you actually receive them.

In most states, a person’s assets are inherited by loved ones according to the wishes of the person as stated in their will. No will means that the estate will probably go into probate and the court will decide exactly how the person’s estate will be distributed.

Exactly what is a will?

A will is either a legal document or a legally binding statement that says that the person who is signing the will (the testator) wishes their assets to be handled after they pass. When it comes to the core of the laws concerning wills across the United States, they are basically the same, although there may be some deviations from state to state.

In New Jersey, for example, an oral will is not considered a legitimate will. On the other hand, New Jersey considers a will that is handwritten as legitimate as long as the testator was the person who actually wrote the will in their own handwriting.

Requirements for a will in New Jersey

The following items must be in a will:

  • Age: According to New Jersey law, the testator must be a minimum of 18 years old. If the person is below 18, the will won’t be considered valid.
  • Competence: In order for a will to be considered valid, the testator must be of sound mind so that they can comprehend the meaning and intent of their will and the type and extent of their estate. If a person is mentally incapacitated, and thus is unable to understand the purpose of their will, it will not be considered valid in New Jersey. This can potentially be the case with a young person or an elderly person who has dementia. If the person understands the purpose of the will, no matter what their disability, the will is considered valid.
  • Witnesses: In New Jersey, two witnesses are required to sign a will after they witness the testator. It will also be considered a valid will if they witness the testator acknowledging their signature on the will.
  • Handwritten wills: Another name for a handwritten will is a holographic will. This type of will is considered valid as long as the will is written in the testator’s handwriting. No signatures are required.

Solid advice from a New Jersey estate planning attorney

Having an estate plan, including a will as well as other documents, is essential so that the testator’s wishes will be honored after they are gone. Not having an estate plan may result in a lot of heartache and a lot of time wasted. For that reason, the experienced advice of a New Jersey estate planning attorney may make a great deal of difference.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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