A Last Will and Testament is a document that memorializes the wishes of the testator. When a person dies without a Will, his or her assets are distributed in accordance with the state laws of intestacy. When this occurs, assets are distributed in a specific order to the decedent’s next of kin, which may not be in accordance with their wishes. Also, a Will may set forth a decedent’s wishes for his or her funeral. Without a Will, a decedent’s wishes for their burial or cremation may not be carried out properly. For these reasons, it is important to execute a valid Will.
In addition, a Will may also designate a legal guardian to be named for minor children. Furthermore, if a designated beneficiary is a minor child, a Will may set forth guidelines to distribute an inheritance into a trust for the child’s benefit. A properly drafted trust can protect an inheritance against creditors, lawsuits, Medicaid, or excessive spending (depending on the trust terms).
A Will also can waive the need for the executor to obtain a bond, which is normally required in order to protect the beneficiary’s interests. Ordinarily, a bond is paid from estate assets on an annual basis, however, executing a valid Will may help bypass this requirement. By waiving a bond, you are declaring that you trust the executor or executors you have chosen to distribute the estate properly in accordance with your wishes.
In summary, a Last Will and Testament helps ensure that a decedent’s wishes are carried out properly. Furthermore, it is important to periodically review a Will to reflect any major life changes. If you are seeking to execute or update a Last Will and Testament, speak with a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey elder law attorney.
The experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney help adults and their families handle all aspects of estate planning. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers can answer your questions about planning for your future, and assist you along the way. To schedule a consultation with our New Jersey estate planning lawyers, call our Wayne law office at (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form.