What is a Last Will and Testament


A New Jersey Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their children’s inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representative—or co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)—to manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedent’s debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedent’s property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usually—in most states—means it must be properly witnessed, as well—not just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedent’s debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedent’s heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedent’s property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a New Jersey Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they don’t, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  New Jersey free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in New Jersey

There are specific legal requirements for those wanting to leave a testament, and legators (the ones writing the will) have to follow them if they want to conduct this process within the New Jersey law.

Though the New Jersey law does not make leaving the will obligatory for everyone, it is still desirable everyone has such a will. The reason for this is quite simple: if people do not express their attitude towards who inherits their assets after their death, local authorities (namely, the court) do it for them. Usually, local authorities distribute the remaining assets according to the principle of the closest relation to legators and do not take into account any personal preferences. It means it is more reliable to leave a testament and fix your preferences there.

When people do not leave the will, they are called "intestate,” and it is for the court to appoint a person inheriting all the legators' assets. Commonly, a surviving spouse gets all the assets if legators had no children. If there are children.” but no surviving spouse, they get all the property. In the situation when there are both a surviving spouse and kids, they divide the remaining property between themselves.

But what legators can include in their will? What can their relatives and loved ones inherit after their death?

Legators can include in the will only assets and property titled in the name, and they cannot manage any of the jointly held property gained in the marriage. Moreover, even when surviving spouses are not included in the will, they still can obtain an elective share of the remaining property. And legislators must always remember that.

The list of Assets

This is the list of legators' assets they can distribute after their death (on condition these assets are titled in their name):

  • Vehicles

  • Houses

  • Cash

  • Business ventures

In addition to creating trusts for people, testators (legators, in other words) can create trusts for their pets, as well. It means legators need to choose a person who will be caring for the legators' pets even after those pets' owners die. By providing such an opportunity, the New Jersey law shows how it cares not only about legators' property (both personal and real) but about their favorite pets, as well.

Legators need to know they always have an opportunity to revoke their will, make amendments to the existing will, or create a new one. If they want to add amendments, they can do it following the same procedure they did while creating the will.

The revocation of the will can be done in the next ways:

  • By creating the new will;

  • By "the performance of a revocatory act on the will" that includes "canceling, tearing, burning, destroying, or obliterating the previous will.

Essential requirements to meet while creating the will:

  • There must be at least two witnesses who need to sign the will after a legator does;

  • A legator must be over 18 years old;

  • A legator (or some person acting by their name and under their guidance) must sign the will;

  • The will must be either in the written or handwritten (holographic) form to be considered legitimate;

  • A legator must be of a healthy mind.

The Aftermath

After the requirements are met, and after the will is written, a legator has to prove it to the probate court. If legators have small estates, they have an opportunity to complete a simplified probate procedure. It is possible in the two situations:

  • The value of assets does not exceed $10,000, and there is no surviving spouse;

  • The value of assets does not exceed $20,000, and a surviving spouse has the right to obtain all those assets.

When legators' assets do not meet these requirements, executors (people appointed by legators) have to ask the Surrogate Court about the provision of "Letters Testamentary.” By utilizing these letters, executors can manage legators' assets according to the will and keep those assets safe and sound.



"Wonderful, A website that has quality last will forms . My husband and I been thinking of this for a long time. We finally decided to get it done and your forms was tailored just the way we wanted them. Thanks and keep up the good work"

Pompano Beach, Florida
"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you - I don't know if I can thank you enough. You guys made it possible for me to get a last will without it costing me a arm and a leg. Now I am completely focus on what I want to do with my life"

Sumter, South Carolina

"It was difficult to find cheap forms until I received your do it yourself last will forms. It took me 30 minutes to file out the forms and my will was complete . I didn't know that it could be that inexpensive to get a will"

Hartford, Connecticut

" The last will documents were so easy to fill out, The help I received from your company is just unbelievable. You guys are great, good looking out."

Detroit, Michigan
9-2021 / All Rights Reserved