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What you need for a valid will

New Jersey Requirements for a Valid Will

Age New Jersey requires that a person is at least 18 years old in order to execute a valid will.

Competence -   Every state requires legal competence in order to validly execute a will. This means that the person must be of sound mind, enough to understand the meaning and purpose of the document, and understand the nature and extent of their property.  For example, if a person has a mental disability that prevents them from understanding the purpose of a will, their will is invalid in New Jersey.  Alternately, this may happen if an elderly person is suffering from dementia, and does not generally know the extent of their property. However, as long as the person understands the purpose of a will, and generally knows the extent of their property, this requirement is satisfied.

Witnesses New Jersey requires that a typed will be signed by at least two people who witnessed the testator sign the will, or witnessed the testator acknowledge their signature on the will or the will itself.

New Jersey Handwritten Wills Handwritten wills are sometimes called “ holographic wills.” This only means that the will, or material provisions of the will, are in the testator’s own handwriting. In New Jersey, these are valid whether or not they are witnessed as long as the will, or material provisions of the will, are in the testator’s handwriting.

What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you do not have a will, you will die “ intestate.” This means that your property will be divided according to state law. Your family members will still inherit, but based on standard rules rather than your wishes.ams!

in New York, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal. However   , New York allows you to make your will "self-proving" and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.  When a New York resident dies intestate, or with no will, the estate is divided in accordance with state laws. According to, if you are survived by a spouse and no children, your spouse will inherit the entire estate. However, if you have children as well as a spouse, your spouse will inherit the first $50,000 and half of the rest of your property. The rest will go to your children. If you have neither spouse nor children, your estate will go to other relatives. If you have parents, they will receive it, but if not, the estate will be divided among any siblings. If there are no siblings, it will be transferred to nieces and nephews, then cousins. If no relatives can be located, everything will become the property of New York state.

In New York, probate is conducted in the Surrogate’s Court for the county where the testator resided. It is the legal process through which the testator’s debts, including taxes, are paid and the assets of the estate are transferred to beneficiaries. To initiate probate, you must file the original will and proof of death, along with a petition for letters testamentary. The letters testamentary authorize you to conduct all activities that are necessary to settle the estate. You must then contact creditors, locate and write to beneficiaries, review and pay outstanding debts, calculate and pay taxes, and make a detailed inventory and valuation of all of the assets of the estate, among other activities. After all tasks are completed, you are required to close the estate.

New York Requirements for a Valid Will (EPTL § 3-2.1 )

Every will must be in writing, and executed and attested in the following manner:
(1) It shall be signed at the end thereof by the testator or, in the name of the testator, by another person in his presence and by his direction, subject to the following:

(A) The presence of any matter following the testator's signature, appearing on the will at the time of its execution, shall not invalidate such matter preceding the signature as appeared on the will at the time of its execution, except that such matter preceding the signature shall not be given effect, in the discretion of the surrogate, if it is so incomplete as not to be readily comprehensible without the aid of matter which follows the signature, or if to give effect to such matter preceding the signature would subvert the testator's general plan for the disposition and administration of his estate.

(B) No effect shall be given to any matter, other than the attestation clause, which follows the signature of the testator, or to any matter preceding such signature which was added subsequently to the execution of the will.

(C) Any person who signs the testator's name to the will, as provided in subparagraph

(1), shall sign his own name and affix his residence address to the will but shall not be counted as one of the necessary attesting witnesses to the will. A will lacking the signature of the person signing the testator's name shall not be given effect; pro- vided, however, the failure of the person signing the testator's name to affix his address shall not affect the validity of the will.

(2) The signature of the testator shall be affixed to the will in the presence of each of the attesting witnesses, or shall be acknowledged by the testator to each of them to have been affixed by him or by his direction. The testator may either sign in the presence of, or acknowledge his signature to each attesting witness separately.

(3) The testator shall, at some time during the ceremony or ceremonies of execution and attestation, declare to each of the attesting witnesses that the instrument to which his signature has been affixed is his will.

(4) There shall be at least two attesting witnesses, who shall, within one thirty day period, both attest the testator's signature, as affixed or acknowledged in their presence, and at the request of the testator, sign their names and affix their residence addresses at the end of the will. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the thirty day requireme nt of the preceding sentence has been fulfilled. The failure of a witness to affix his address shall not affect the validity of the will.

(b) The procedure for the execution and attestation of wills need not be followed in the precise order set forth in paragraph (a) so long as all the requisite formalities are observed during a period of time in which, satisfactorily to the surrogate, the ceremony or ceremonies of execution and attestation continue.

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