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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.



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