Many New Jersey residents want to make sure that they have a will in place to distribute their assets after they pass away. When people do not have one, their belongings generally go through the state’s intestacy process. While they may want to have more control than that offered by intestacy, some people may hesitate to seek legal advice when creating their estate plan. They may opt to use pre-printed or downloadable documents in an effort to save time and money.

However, some do-it-yourself options can lead to unexpected or expensive consequences later. In one Florida case, a woman used a pre-printed form to create her will. She carefully listed her belongings, including her bank account numbers, and named her sister as her beneficiary. If her sister died before her, she wanted to leave her assets to her brother. However, the form that she used did not contain a residuary clause to cover any other assets she may have owned at the time of her death, leaving them unaddressed in the will.

Her sister passed away before her, and she inherited money, real estate and other property as a result. However, she did not update her will. When she passed away, the named items were distributed to her brother, but her two nieces received the inherited property through intestacy. Despite a court challenge by the brother, the nieces retained the assets due to the lack of a residuary clause.

Disputes over an inheritance may be costly and drawn-out. In the end, they may be far more expensive than having legal assistance with the initial process of drafting a will. An estate planning attorney may help people to create wills, trusts and other documents to protect their vision for the future.