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You might have been putting off creating a valid will-no one loves thinking about their eventual demise. However, it may be more important than you realize to create written instructions on how you want your estate distributed. Here's why:

  1. New Jersey intestacy laws will kick in if you don't have a will, and they may not line up with how you want your estate distributed

If you die without a will, New Jersey's intestacy laws will determine where your money goes. Your estate will automatically be divided between your spouse and children. If there is no spouse or child, the estate will go to your parents, then grandparents, then siblings and out through increasingly distant relatives until the proceeds have been distributed. You will be unable to control who administers your estate, or the share that each heir receives.

  1. You want to name a guardian for your minor children

In the tragic event that you and your spouse die at the same time, it would be especially crucial to have valid wills in place to ensure that your children are cared for in your absence. In a will, you'll also have the opportunity to name a responsible, capable legal guardian for your children.

  1. You wish to save your heirs the time and expense of distribution of your estate through an administrator

If you don't create a will, your estate will be distributed according to intestacy laws, using an appointed administrator. The deceased person's next of kin has the right to be appointed as an administrator, but can renounce the right to do so. Administrating an estate can be complex, as it involves being a caretaker over all assets of the decedent, at a time when the administrator is likely in mourning for the close relative who died. Additionally, the administrator will need to pay between $125-150 in administrative fees, plus a bond that serves as a guarantee that the assets are not improperly distributed. Having a will allows you to choose an executor to distribute your estate, who might be someone like a financial advisor or attorney who is properly equipped to handle the task.

For assistance in creating a New Jersey will, contact the Morristown law firm of Smith & Doran for a consultation, at 973-292-0016.

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Smith & Gaynor, LLC
60 Washington Street, Suite 302
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2661
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