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Avoid disputes by making sure a will is properly executed

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2023 | Estate Planning

In New Jersey, having an estate plan is a wise step to make sure that a person’s property is protected and goes where they want it to go after they have passed away. The document that most people choose to use for their estate planning needs is a will. When creating a will, its validity is crucial to ensuring the testator’s desires are carried out. That means it needs to be executed according to state law.

In recent years, there have been stories about famous and wealthy people who did not have a will or did not have a properly executed will. It led to extended disputes about their estates. This is true for the musicians Prince and Aretha Franklin as well as the actor Chadwick Boseman. To avoid these types of disagreements among heirs and prospective heirs, people should be aware of the details of executing wills.

Understand when a will is legally executed

After completing a will, there are legal steps that must be taken to ensure it has been executed correctly. It must be in written form. The testator must have signed it or, if they are unable to, a person can sign it in the testator’s name if the testator is present and is directing them to do so. Two others must sign it after witnessing the will having been signed by the testator or a person representing the testator.

It can be valid even if the above requirements are violated if it was written with the intention of it being a will. It does not need to be witnessed if it is in the testator’s handwriting. There must be evidence that this is the case. Other forms of writing would be a sufficient example to compare the handwriting.

If the person did not execute it as the law says, it can still be viewed as valid. It must be shown that the intention of the written document was that it be perceived as a will or an action related to the will. It can be the actual will; a revocation of the will in full or in part; an addition or alteration of the will; or a complete or partial revival of a will that had previously been revoked.

Having a valid will can give peace of mind

A basic estate plan is essential to serve as a protective device no matter a person’s age, condition, family situation and financial circumstances. It could be someone a person who is just graduating from college and is looking forward to a successful life or someone who is older, has a large family and a substantial amount of wealth.

While the law does account for people who might have written what is construed as a will and intended to be viewed as such but did not execute it according to the law, it is preferable to avoid confusion and to have the will executed.

Regardless, a will is a critical document that can ensure a person’s wishes are carried out. With this or any other aspect of estate planning, knowing how to move forward with the process is imperative. Missteps can be costly in time and money, so it is useful to get the document and all its legal requirements right from the outset.


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