If you live in Bergen County, New Jersey, then you need to consider estate planning. The most basic form of estate planning is writing a will, and this you can either do yourself or with assistance from an estate planning attorney, NJ. A last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to leave assets for your preferred family members, spouse, relatives, friends, loved ones, charity, after your death and in the manner you desire. New Jersey law allows you to even provide for your pets after you die. This instruction can be contained in a pet trust but if you do not want that, you can simply write down instructions on your will on the kind of care and provisions your pet should receive after your death.
Naming a Guardian
A will also allows you to name a Guardian for your kids who do not attain the age of 18 before you die. Children below 18 are legally not allowed in Bergen County, NJ to inherit property, so to ensure whatever you want really goes to them, you have to name a Guardian in your will who will manage the assets for your children’s benefit until they come of age.
Naming an executor
Your executor is the person who represents you when you die. He is called your personal representative and you should name him in your will. It is generally not advised to name a spouse or child as an executor because they would be overwhelmed with the grief of your loss, and the roles of an executor requires professionalism and straight-headedness. The executor is the one who sees to it that every instruction on your will is carried out, your debts and taxes are paid, and that your named beneficiaries receive what you want for them. All this your executor must carry out in a court-supervised legal process known as probate.
What is probate?
Probate is a court process carried out in your county after you die, for the purpose of administrating your estate and disbursing it to your beneficiaries or heirs. In Bergen County, if you write a will, then your estate must go through probate to ensure that the dictates of your will are carried out lawfully. Probate in Bergen County is often very complex and drags on for a long time, but there is a simplified probate procedure for small estates. If your estate is worth $20,000 or less and you name your spouse or domestic partner as the only beneficiary, then a simplified probate will be done. This will also be done if you have no surviving spouse or domestic partner and your estate doesn’t exceed $10,000.
What if I do not write a will?
If you do not write a will in Bergen County, NJ, then you are said to have died intestate. This means your estate will be disbursed according to the intestacy laws of New Jersey which provide that if you are survived by a spouse with no kids, the spouse receives the whole of your estate; if you are survived by kids with no spouse, the kids get everything; if you are survived by a spouse and kids, your estate is shared amongst them; if you leave behind family who are not blood relatives of your spouse, then they can have a share in your estate in the absence of kids. Perhaps you need to leave property for someone outside your family, and any of the above scenarios do not coincide with your wishes, you have to create a will to specify exactly who you desire to bequeath assets to.
Requirements for making a will in Bergen County
The following are the requirements for writing a Bergen County Last Will and Testament according to New Jersey law
- The will must be in writing
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have mental soundness
- The will must be signed by you or a person directed by you in your conscious presence
While writing and signing the will, you must have at least two witnesses who must also sign to acknowledge their presence.
These are legal requirements which must be upheld to make a will legally valid. If any of these instructions are violated, then the will is discarded by the court, and you will be said to have died intestate. It is often advisable to hire a Will and Trust Attorney or an estate planning attorney to help you draft your will and ensure it is devoid of costly mistakes. An estate planning lawyer from our estate planning law firm in Bergen County will also advise you on how to write your will in such a way that best addresses your personal wishes and avoids conflicts and headaches in your family when you die.
Contact our estate planning law firm Bergen County.