The last will and testament, otherwise known as a "will" is a legal document that communicates one's personal wishes as pertaining to their possessions and their heirs or beneficiaries. Your last will and testament will outline what you want done with your possessions; for example, whether you want them to be left to certain family members, a group, or donated to a favorite charity. It will also name an executor to manage your estate, and it will appoint a guardian for any minor children where applicable.
Your last will and testament is written while you are alive and is carried out once you pass away. In your will, you appoint someone that you trust to be an executor of your estate. The executor will be responsible for producing your will to the probate court and administrating the estate. During probate proceedings, the executor is supervised by the probate court in order to ensure that assets are collected, managed and valuated; debts against the estate are paid off; and all remaining assets are distributed among the beneficiaries of your choice.
One of the benefits of having a will is that you get to decide who gets what property and when. In the absence of a will, your property will be distributed according to New Jersey's intestate succession laws, which are laws that go into effect when you don't have a will. While as a whole, the state tries to create laws that will pass down property in such a manner that most families will be satisfied; the laws of succession may not be suitable for your family's situation. For example, you may not have spoken to your eldest son in twenty years and would instead prefer that his share go to his children (your grandchildren), or you may want to bequeath a large portion of your estate to cancer research or a children's home. Without a will in place, you have no way of voicing your wishes and instead, your assets will be distributed according to state law.
As a Haddon Heights estate planning attorney with more than 30 years of experience assisting clients with their last will and testaments, and with a 10.0 Superb Avvo Rating, and a Martindale-Hubbell® BV Distinguished® Rating, and as one of the attorneys included in New Jersey's selection of Super Lawyers®, you can be rest assured that your last will and testament will be created by a true professional to reflect your goals and will serve the best interests of your estate.