The first thing you should realize is that in the State of New Jersey probating a will is neither time consuming nor expensive. Many people wrongly believe that if an estate has to pass through probate they will be taxed tremendously. Based on this misconception many will forego the making of a will in the belief that their estate will not have to pass through probate. This assumption is flawed on two counts.
With this in mind let’s discuss some aspects of probating an estate. To begin with it may be helpful to define probate. To probate a will you do not need an attorney. Simply present yourself to the Surrogate’s Court in the County that the deceased person lived in at the time of their death and bring the original will and an original death certificate. Probate is simply the formal process of proving the validity of a will after the death of the testator. At the end of the process the person you designate to handle the final arrangements of your estate, the executor, will leave the Surrogate’s Court with letters Testamentary. Letters Testamentary are essentially a Court Order which permit the executor named therein to transfer the property of a person who has died. Think of it, remember the old story about someone offering to sell the Brooklyn Bridge. You would never buy it from them because they were not the owner of the bridge. But suppose you knew who the owner was and the person offering to sell it was his executor and letters Testamentary. If this were the case the old story may end differently. The probate process generally takes between 30 to 45 minuets, and will generally cost about $100. Importantly, If you should die intestate; without a will, it may cost significantly more to probate the estate. The main reason for this is that the law requires a bond be posted to ensure the faithful performance of the duties of administering the estate. The bond will have to be in effect until the estate has been settled which means an annual premium must be paid. Given that members attempt to become the guardian of the children. Only with a will can you designate to whom you wish your estate to pass and who will be the guardian of your minor children. Additionally, a will is simple to amend. Simply prepare a Codicil which refers to the original will and make the necessary changes.
Often people will avoid creating a will because all of their assets are held jointly with their spouse and they believe that when one dies the estate will pass to the other. This may be true in most instances but if they should die simultaneously, in a common disaster or within 120 hours of one another the results may change. Additionally, situations often arise where a divorce is possible and a spouse receives an inheritance prior to the divorce then dies shortly afterwards. In this case the inheritance may pass to the surviving spouse who most likely would have not received the assets after the divorce.
As you can see the advantages of having a will far outweigh any disadvantages. For a nominal fee and a few hours of your time you can make certain your loved ones will not be further burdened after your death by your poor decision making.