A Will is a written instrument by which a person (referred to as a Testator in this context) makes a disposition of his/her property, both real and personal, to take effect upon his/her death. It may also include appointment of a guardian for younger children and establishment of a trust for them. In order for such instrument to take effect as a Will, it must be executed with the formalities required by statute. In New Jersey, this includes the following: the Testator must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, the written instrument must set forth disposition upon death, and it must be signed by the Testator and at least two witnesses. It is not recommended that any person who has an interest in the Will be a witness thereto.
By its own nature, a Will is revocable by the Testator during his/her lifetime. In New Jersey, a Testator may revoke his/her Will only by destroying all originals of the Will or specifically revoking it in a subsequent writing with the same formalities as the Will.
Should there be an untimely death without an existing Will, the laws of intestacy will apply. The laws of intestacy govern how an estate is distributed when no Will exists so that it is important that one understands how it might apply to his/her particular estate in a theoretical situation.