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Wills & Probate

Throughout our lives we buy and collect property, save money, and often incur debt. All of these items become part of our estate. When we pass away, we use a will to provide instructions for our families on how we want our estate to be distributed after our death. New Jersey wills and probate laws deal with the distribution and administration of property in the estate of an individual who dies a resident of New Jersey.


Probate and Estate Planning Terms

This glossary of probate and estate planning terms is designed to help navigate the legal language used in estate planning and probate law.


Will law

Drawing up a will is an important step in the estate planning process. The will is a legal document that directs how you want your property distributed upon your death. In order to be a valid will, New Jersey law provides that the document must be properly signed and witnessed by two people and you must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old when it is signed. The will should also be executed in the presence of a Notary Public in order to simplify the probate process.

Sometimes your wishes, as outlined in your will, are not the hopes and wishes of your family members. Occasionally, families contest the validity of wills or the validity of changes to wills. In order to avoid the possibility of an invalid or contested will, an estate planning attorney can prepare the document for you.


A New Jersey Will usually includes the following:

  • Appointment of an executor to carry out your wishes and avoid bonding requirements
  • Clear direction of how you want your assets distributed
  • Appointment of a guardian for minor or incompetent children
  • Possible Trusts for estate tax planning and to protect beneficiaries

A will can be revoked at any time before your death by destroying it or by creating a new will that replaces the old one. Wills executed in the state of New Jersey can be changed by either creating an entirely new will or by adding the changes to the existing will by codicil.


The Law of Probate

Probate or estate administration laws dictate the process of distributing your assets after you die.  These laws deal with the following:

  • Asset collection, valuation, liquidation and distribution
  • Beneficiary and creditor notification
  • Debt, obligation and valid claim payments
  • Tax return preparation and filing
  • Inventory preparation
  • Court and legal cost payments

Contact the Firm

If you reside in central New Jersey and need the assistance of a Princeton will or probate lawyer to create a will or administer an estate, contact Mason, Griffin & Pierson, P.C. for consultation. The firm’s probate attorneys have over five decades of experience in drafting wills, estate planning, probate, and estate administration.

  • Zuckerman Joins Firm

    Elizabeth Zuckerman has been named Of Counsel to the Princeton law firm, Mason, Griffin & Pierson, P.C, and will lead its Employment Law section. Ms. Zuckerman received a J.D. from the University of California at Davis School of Law where she served as Executive Editor for the Law Review. In 1997, Ms. Zuckerman co-founded the employment law firm of Zuckerman & Fisher, LLC, focusing her practice on employee rights. Ms. Zuckerman is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, the Third Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She will continue to practice in the areas of employment law, employee rights and appellate practice. Ms. Zuckerman serves on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association and is a member of the New Jersey State and American Bar Associations.

  • MG&P Celebrates 65th Anniversary

    Mason, Griffin & Pierson is celebrating its sixty-fifth anniversary. Since its founding in 1955, the firm has evolved from a two-man general practice partnership to a mid-size professional corporation which continues a general practice but has developed specific areas of concentration. The firm has been an integral part of central New Jersey over the past sixty-five years. The firm's first municipal client, Princeton, remains a client today, along with other municipalities and governing bodies in Mercer, Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Camden and Gloucester counties. Two of the firm's attorneys have served as President of the Mercer County Bar Association and, in 2001, the firm received the Community Partner Award from Mercer County Bar Foundation. Four of the firm's attorneys have been honored with the Fred G. Stickel Award for Excellence in Municipal Law and Service to the Legal Profession.

  • Princeton Adult Education Class - Know Your Rights as an Employee

    Elizabeth Zuckerman will be an instructor for the Princeton Adult Education course, Know Your Rights as an Employee. The 3-session course starts on February 11 and will explore topics including sexual harassment, discrimination, medical marijuana in the workplace, whistle-blower claims, NJ’s newly enacted Wage Theft Act, Federal and State family leave acts, and other laws that protect employees. Ms. Zuckerman has been practicing employment law for thirty years in Princeton and serves on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association. For more information visit .princetonadultschool.org.

  • Welcome New Municipal Clients

    MG&P starts the new year with new municipal clients. Kevin Van Hise has been appointed as the attorney for the West Amwell Township Zoning Board of Adjustment and Edwin Schmierer was recently retained by the Borough of Elmwood to serve as Special Counsel.

  • New Jersey Supreme Court Case

    Elizabeth Zuckerman will be arguing in the NJ Supreme Court on February 3rd, in the case of Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. The case involves the issue of whether an employee who uses medical marijuana can be terminated for failing a drug test. Ms. Zuckerman will be arguing on behalf of Amicus NELA-NJ.