A Last Will & Testament is a legal document that allows you to determine how your assets (i.e., estate) will be distributed; who, when, and/or in what manner beneficiaries may receive those assets. A Last Will & Testament also permits you to choose fiduciaries such as executors (who manage the estate), trustees (who manage trusts under your Last Will & Testament) and, in the event there are minor children, who shall serve as their guardian.
Without a Last Will & Testament, the laws of the State of New Jersey determine who receives your assets. These laws are known as “laws of intestacy.” In addition, without a Last Will & Testament, the Surrogate’s Court, based on the law, will appoint the guardian of your minor children and an administrator of your estate.
Transfer of an estate to an individual’s heirs after his death may be an orderly or thoroughly disorganized process depending on a four-letter word — WILL. Every person, eighteen (18) years of age or over should make one. This important document is a legal declaration of the way an individual wants his or her property distributed. Whether the estate is large or small, it is desirable to transfer what you own with a properly executed will — whether you are single or married, a parent or a child, young or old, wealthy or just making it.
Those without wills may leave their survivors in financial insecurity or downright frustration. It is to the advantage of your family and close friends that you execute a will. Contrary to general opinion, frequently the smaller the amounts involved, the greater trouble when there is no will. Squabbles over a few thousand dollars can be more bitter than fights over many thousands.