Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

People often wonder, "Do I need a lawyer to make a will?" A will is, after all, an important legal document that can have a significant impact on your family and loved ones. In most cases, the answer depends on your unique situation. If you have questions or concerns about the handling of your property and/or medical treatment, an estate planning attorney can provide significant peace of mind.

When to Consult a Lawyer about Your Last Will

In New Jersey, you do not need a lawyer to make a will; however, you may want to talk to a lawyer in the following situations:

  • You want to explore your options for passing on your assets.
  • You have significant assets that may be subject to estate tax.
  • You have complex plans for passing on your assets.
  • You are a business owner.
  • You have a child with disabilities.
  • You fear your will could be contested.
  • You wish to disinherit your spouse.

For these types of situations, you may need additional documents to supplement your will, or your will may have to be worded very particularly.

Make Sure Your Will Meets New Jersey's Legal Requirements

While you don't need a lawyer to make a last will and testament, you do have to meet New Jersey's requirements for executing a valid will, including:

  • The will must be in writing;
  • Signed by the person (testator) making the will; and
  • Witnessed by at least two people over the age of 18.

For more information about how to write a will, please see our page "What are the Legal Requirements of a Valid Will in New Jersey."

A Warning about "Do-It-Yourself" Kits

You have probably seen "Do-It-Yourself" kits for creating a last will and testament, perhaps online or in an office supply store. In most cases, these kits are not specific to individual states or to any person's personal or family circumstances. Rather, these kits provide general last will and testament language, which may or may not create a valid will in New Jersey.

Some kits claim to customize the document for the state where you live; however, if there is an error in the document's preparation or in the signing of the document, the will may still be invalid. Bottom line: while do-it-yourself kits can be informative, they are rarely a complete substitute for the advice and guidance of an estate planning attorney.

Contact Us for Questions about Your Will

If you have questions about your will, please contact an estate planning attorney at The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C., for a consultation. We can help you at any point during the estate planning process.