Minimum Requirements for Drafting a Will

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You know that you need a will and maybe you’ve been putting it off for years.  Now that you’re finally ready to have your will drafted, what do you need to include and what are the requirements?

Here’s a checklist of the items that need to be included in your will:

  1. Decide what property to include. List your significant assets and then decide which items will be left to your beneficiaries by methods outside of your will.  These are items like life insurance and retirement accounts. Your lawyer can help you decide which property to include and what to leave out.
  2. Decide who will inherit your property. Typically, this is easy for most people, but don’t forget to also choose alternate beneficiaries in case your first choices don’t survive you.
  3. Name an executor.  Name someone to serve as executor who will carry out the terms of the will.  Talk to this person ahead of time to make sure they are willing to serve.
  4. Name a guardian for your children.  If you have children under 18, include a guardian and make sure this person is willing to take on this role.
  5. Name someone to manage your children’s property.  If your will leaves property to children or young adults, name someone to manage these assets until they are old enough to do so themselves.

Once you’ve made these decisions, you are ready to finalize your will.  Make sure your will complies with New Jersey law by doing the following:

  1. You need to be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
  2. Your will needs to be written.
  3. Sign your will in front of two witnesses and make it self-proving using the appropriate language.
  4. Store your will in a safe place and tell your executor where it is and how to access it. The Secretary of State maintains a registry where you can register information about your will, but it won’t maintain a copy of your will.

Posted in Estate Planning | Tagged estate planning, guardian, heirs, property inhertance, will drafting |