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A Simple Will: Just the Basics, Please

So, most people have heard of a will. It’s a good idea to have one because if you don’t, the state decides who gets your belongings and, in some cases, who raises any children you leave behind. If the thought of that scares you as much as it does me, you should probably make a will. While this may appear to be a nearly impossible task, it does not have to be. In fact, there is such a thing as a basic will, and our New Jersey estate planning attorney will explain further.

You Can Write Your Basic Will Yourself

If all you want or need is a basic will, you can actually write it up yourself, without any legal help, using a do-it-yourself book or software. Fear not, making a will this way ensures that it’s just as legally binding as if you had a professional help you with it.

With a basic will, you can make a binding document that does the following:

  • Leaves your property to the people and organizations of your choice
  • Names a guardian to care for any minor children you have in case you can’t
  • Names someone to manage any property you leave to any minor children (either your own or someone else’s) and finally
  • Names your personal representative, who makes sure that the contents of your will are carried out.

When Do You Need a basic Will in New Jersey?

In general, if you’re under 50 and don’t expect to leave a lot of valuable assets behind to estate taxes, you should be able to get by with just a basic will. However, as you get older and have more valuable possessions, it may be a good idea to look into something better.

Can A Basic Will Avoid Probate? 

Unfortunately, there is no way to answer that question. If you leave anything more than a small amount of property in your will, probate proceedings will almost certainly be initiated. It’s no secret that probate is a time-consuming and expensive process, lasting anywhere from six months to a year and costing up to 3-5 % in lawyer and court fees. Beneficiaries will also receive little to nothing until the process is completed.

The good news is that if you only need a basic will, you don’t need to worry about probate right now. If you’re young, in good shape, and don’t have a lot of money, your main priority should be to plan for the unlikely event that you die suddenly and unexpectedly. Aside from that, you almost certainly have enough time later to plan for all of these other things.

Our New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney is Here to Help

So concludes our brief examination of a basic will. We hope this helps to shed some light on a situation that you may not have realized could apply to you. Finally, consider this quote from New Jersey estate planning attorney Justin Scott.

“Anything dealing with legal matters can be confusing and costly, so it’s good to let people know there is something they can draw up themselves, with the help of books or software, and make sure that the important things in their lives are taken care of without having to go through the stress and hassle of having to shell out a lot of money to hire a professional.”

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