Do I Have to File or record My Will with a Court for it to be Valid?

In New Jersey, you do not have to file or record your will with a court or in public records for it to be valid. When you do, it becomes a matter of public record. However, the advantage of always knowing your will is stored on file—and ready to use—may outweigh the disadvantage of anyone being able to access it. If you decide not to record your will, you should keep it in a safe place that is easily accessible, such as a safe deposit box.

How Do I Record a Will?

In New Jersey, you can record your will at the probate court with jurisdiction over the area where you live. You must record your original will along with affidavits by your witnesses that they witnessed you signing your will. This form of recorded will is often referred to as a "self-probating" will. While recording your will may give you peace of mind, recording or filing your will is not required to make your will legal, nor will recording your affect any potential challenges to your will.

Does a Will Become Public Record?

When you record your will with the state of New Jersey, it becomes a matter of public record. If you do not record your will, it will not be available to the public until after it has been probated. Because anyone can access your will once it is recorded, you may want to avoid including information in your will that you do not want anyone to know.

Why Record a Last Will & Testament?

While it's not necessary, recording your last will and testament has certain benefits. The number one advantage to recording your will is that it will be easily accessible upon your passing. Your executor can go right to the probate court and obtain your will easily—it is public record—which means he or she won't have to access a safe deposit box, and/or locate your will among numerous other documents you may have. You can rest assured that your will is stored on file in a protected environment.

Contact Us about Executing, Filing & Protecting Your Will

If you've taken the time to read this page, you likely understand the importance of your last will and testament. The estate planning group at The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C., can help you execute, record (if you choose), and protect your will, so that your wishes are carried out to the letter. Contact us today for a consultation.