by | Feb 6, 2024

In New Jersey, many people wait to prepare a Will or do not have a Will because they feel it is costly and/or unnecessary.  However, having a Will is an easy and straightforward process that can make sure your last wishes are followed and to protect your heirs.    

Having a Will ensures that your estate will be disbursed or given to the individuals you want to have your assets.  If you die without a Will, the New Jersey intestacy statutes (N.J.S.A. 3B:5-3 and N.J.S.A. 3B:5-4), will decide who gets your possessions and what percentage of your possessions these individuals receive.  Without a Will, these distributions will be made regardless of your desire and wishes.  However, by having a Will, you decide who gets your estate and portion or amount each person gets.

Similarly, by having a Will, you decide whom will be appointed the Executor of your estate.  This is important because the Executor is in charge of the Estate and is in charge with making sure the instructions contained in your Will are followed.  If a Will is not drafted, someone, will have to make an application to be appointed an Administrator of the estate.  Although the powers of the Administrator are similar to the Executor, the process of appointing an Administrator, can cause delays and additional expenses.  Moreover, the New Jersey statute allows many individuals to make an application to be an Administrator, possible someone you do not want administrating your affairs.

By having a Will drafted, you have the authority to create a Trust wherein the money or assets of your estate can be held in trust for someone until they reach a certain age.  You have the flexibility to have the money to be held in trust to whatever age you deem is appropriate, based on the facts and circumstances of your case.  If there is no Will, a trust can only be created only if the heir is a minor or is deemed incompetent by the Court.   

If you have a minor child a Will is important and vital because it allows one to appoint a person to be the guardian to your minor child.  You can appoint the person you trust to care for your child until your child reached the age of eighteen.  If there is no Will and there is a minor child, someone will have to file a guardianship application with the Court to be the guardian of the minor child.  This will result in the Court, rather than the child’s parent, deciding who will raise the child or children.

The time and expense of commencing the administration of the estate will be faster and less expensive if one has a Will.  Under New Jersey law, an administration of an estate cannot begin until ten (10) days after the date of death.  If one has a Will, it usually takes up to two (2) to three (3) weeks to get the certificates appointing a person as the Executor of the Estate.  On the other hand, if there is no Will, a person has to make an extensive and detailed application to be appointed Administrator of the estate and pending on the relationship an Order to Show Cause and possible a formal Court hearing will be required.  As a result, the process of getting appointed Administrator is normally more expensive and takes substantially longer.  Reducing the legal expenses will help protect the value of the estate.

By having a Will one can determine whether you want the Executor to serve with or without a surety bond.  The purpose of a surety bond is to protect the estate from any financial wrongdoing.  Often, when a person has a Will and they appoint someone as Executor that they trust and they will indicate in the Will that no surety bond is required.  This will result is the estate saving time and the costs of the bond.  If there is no Will, the Surrogate in the County will almost always require a surety bond, which will be based on the value of the estate.  

The Estate Planning and Administration section at Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, assist individuals and families in all their estate planning needs. This firm provides complete and sophisticated estate-planning counsel to meet the needs of every client. Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, also offers expertise in the administration of estates as well as in counseling institutional and individual fiduciaries and, when necessary, in litigation with respect to any disputes involving the estate.

Our firm assists individuals and families in achieving their objectives of minimizing estate, gift and income taxes. We also assist executors, administrators, and trustees to manage and finalize estates, including handling probate, collection of asset information and filing New Jersey inheritance and estate tax returns and federal estate tax returns.

Richard D. Huxford is a Certified Municipal Attorney at Triarsi, Betancourt, Wukovits, & Dugan, L.L.C., with many years of experience in drafting Wills and Trusts and Administrating Estates.  Feel free to contact him directly to discuss your Estate Planning and/or Administration questions at (908) 709-1700, on his cellular phone at (908) 370-1393, or by e-mail at

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.  We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content contained herein.

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