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Why Should I Have a Will?

Will and Property RightsPeople ask us, “Why should I have a will”?   We don’t ask, “Well, how big is your estate?”; rather, we ask, “Who do you want to distribute your real and personal property when you pass on, you, or an indifferent State of New Jersey?”  You can guess the usual reply.  

A will provides control, self-determination for the distribution of your estate, who is in charge of the distribution (Executor or Executrix) and who controls assets held for the beneficiary of minors or others you designate (Trustee).  A will also provides guidance as to who you seek to be the guardian of your minor children. 

In New Jersey, if you die intestate (without a will), then the judicial system steps in and provides an orderly – if dispassionate – distribution of your estate as dictated by state statute, you lose control as to who is in charge of distributing your estate and who would be the guardian for your minor children.  Below is a chart outlining who gets what if you pass intestate.

       If You Die With:

     Here’s What Happens:

  • children but no spouse
  • children inherit everything
  • spouse but no descendants or parents
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and descendants from you and that spouse, and the spouse has no other descendants
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and descendants from you and that spouse, and the spouse has descendants from another relationship
  • spouse inherits the first 25% of your intestate property (but not less than $50,000 or more than $200,000), plus 1/2 of the balance
  • your descendants inherit everything else
  • spouse and descendants from you and someone other than that spouse
  • spouse inherits the first 25% of your intestate property (but not less than $50,000 or more than $200,000), plus 1/2 of the balance
  • descendants inherit everything else
  • spouse and parents
  • spouse inherits the first 25% of your intestate property (but not less than $50,000 or more than $200,000), plus 3/4 of the balance
  • parents inherit remaining intestate property
  • parents but no spouse or descendants
  • parents inherit everything
  • siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents
  • siblings inherit everything

Source: Nolo.com

A will need not be a difficult, lengthy document filled with legalese, but there are requirements that every will must comply with if you wish your will to be effective.  You must clearly indicate that the document is intended to be your last will and testament, perhaps prior wills need to be revoked, beneficiaries should be named, as should an executor, a guardian should be named in the case of minor children, the will must be signed by you and witnessed by two people, and it should be notarized.  Those are the minimum requirements.

Sure, there are ample one-size-fits-all wills on the internet, but every person brings a distinct set of life circumstances to the table, with different concerns, different questions, and different desires as to the orderly and caring distribution of their assets to loved ones or institutions they care about.  There may be tax or other considerations that apply.  At Francis D. McIntyre, PC we have the experience, knowledge, and care to consider all of your needs and desires through our Family Law practice and to draft a will that accurately represents your needs. Contact us at (908) 264-7220 or moc.qsemfnull@mdf to set an appointment. or stop in to talk, we’re here to help.

 

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Our Westfield New Jersey Location

Francis D. McIntyre, PC | 316 E Broad St | Westfield, NJ 07090

Phone: (908) 264-7220 | Fax: (908) 264-7219 | moc.qsemfnull@mdf