How to make a will in New Jersey

A guide to New Jersey probate laws.

Elissa

Elissa Suh

Published June 12, 2020

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Who can write a will in New Jersey?

Anyone who is at least 18 years old and of “sound mind” can write a will in New Jersey.

What are the requirements for witnessing a will in New Jersey?

Every will must be signed by two witnesses who are “generally competent” and at least 18 years old.

Can witnesses be beneficiaries of the will in New Jersey?

Yes, they can be interested witnesses.

What are the requirements for nominating an executor in New Jersey?

New Jersey doesn’t have any explicit requirements for choosing an executor, as long as they’re an adult. But a court is allowed to remove an executor if it considers them incompetent, or if the executor has committed fraud.

Out-of-state executors are allowed, but may have to post an executor bond.

Can you create a holographic will in New Jersey?

Yes, New Jersey allows for a holographic will, but it must be written and signed in the testator’s handwriting.

Is New Jersey a community property state?

No, New Jersey is not a community property state.

In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.

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Laws of intestacy in New Jersey

In New Jersey, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate based on the laws of intestate succession. Usually, the surviving spouse has the first claim.

This is how much a surviving spouse would receive in a few different circumstances:

If the decedent is survived by a spouse and:Surviving spouse's share
Children from the surviving spouseEverything
No children from any spouse, parents, siblings, nephews/niecesEverything
No children, but surviving parents of the decedentFirst 1/4 of the estate, but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000, plus 3/4 of the remaining intestate estate
A child from the surviving spouse, and a child from a previous relationshipFirst 1/4 of the estate, but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000, plus 1/2 of the remaining intestate estate
Only a child from a previous relationshipFirst 1/4 of the estate, but not less than $50,000 nor more than $200,000, plus 1/2 of the remaining intestate estate

Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order:

  • Children, or their children
  • Parents
  • Siblings, or their children (nieces/nephews)
  • Grandparents, or aunts/uncles
  • Cousins
  • Stepchildren

For someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share typically passes to their children by a per stirpes designation.

Filing the will in New Jersey

During the testator’s lifetime, the will can be registered, not filed, with the Office of the Secretary of State, which keeps a Will Registry. Registering your will in New Jersey means submitting basic information about your will, not storing the will itself.

The estate can file the will with the local Surrogate’s Court or Superior Court as soon as the testator dies, but it won’t be probated by the court until 10 days after the date of recorded death.

Estate administration without probate in New Jersey

No estate administration is necessary in New Jersey if the value of the estate does not exceed $50,000, and there is a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, if the estate is valued at $20,000 or less and there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner.

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About the author

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa Suh

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She writes about estate planning, mortgages, and occasionally health insurance. In the past she has written about film and music.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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