Today Your Legal Corner will discuss “the reasons to register a will.” After spending a wonderful Valentine weekend with my children, I felt a little melancholy, even sad, wondering where the time has gone and how quickly children grow. Most parents who now have children that are grown share this sentiment.
After thinking about this, I decided to take a glass half full approach with a quote from Dr. Seuss, one of the most notable children’s authors ever, whose birthday will be celebrated soon, on March 2nd. Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.”
Yes, the #1 reason to register a will… is to confirm that it happened! In other words, when a will is registered, it provides proof that a document was filed stating that a will was written and exists.
In New Jersey, the office of the Secretary of State, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, maintains a will registry, where every resident in the state may file should he or she decide to do so.
The process and some considerations are stated below.
Register a will.
Under N.J.S.A. 3B: 3-2.1(d), a testator/testatrix or his or her attorney may register a will by completing a form. To access the New Jersey Will Registry Form simply click here. The information requested on the form includes name of testator/testatrix, address, place of birth and date the will was made. Additionally, the names and addresses of the executor/executrix and beneficiaries may also be listed on the form. Importantly, the location of the will at the time of filing the form should be listed as well.
Should I register my will?
In New Jersey, registration of a will is completely voluntary. A copy of the will is not kept on file and registering is not proof that the will is a valid one. However, registration shows that a will may have been created.
Consider the content of your will. Have your assets been distributed unequally or has a descendant been disinherited? These are reasons why after you have passed away, someone may want to say that a will was not created. When a person dies without a will, your property will be distributed according to state statute where the amount received is based on who you were married to and lineal descent. In numerous cases, how assets are to be distributed under a will, are not the same as how assets will be distributed according to the law of intestacy.
File or retrieve will registry.
To file or retrieve registry information, see the New Jersey Secretary of State website. After completing the registry form, payment in the amount of $10.oo should be made to the State of New Jersey. The form should be mailed to the Office of the Secretary of State, P.O. Box 300, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0300. When you register a will, make sure to confirm registration. And, always consult with an attorney for legal guidance.
Till next week, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “tips on how creditors of an estate are paid.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law firm of Hoffman DiMuzio.
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Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.