A lot of people think making a will is going to be a long and complicated process, but once you have the help of a qualified attorney, the purpose and effect of a will can usually be explained very easily. Here are some questions I am asked frequently when working on a will:
(1) What happens if someone dies without a will? If someone dies without a will, their assets are put through the court (the Surrogates Court) system and then divided according to NJ state laws. Even if the person made a verbal dying declaration that their assets be given to someone, without a written last will and testament, the court does not, and will not, honor those wishes.
(2) Is there a minimum amount of assets you need to write a will? No, your will distributes whatever you have whether it is $10 or $10 million. There is no minimum required in order to create a will, but you should know that the distribution of assets may have tax implications in the future.
(3) I have a last will, do I need a living will? A last will deals with distributing your assets after you die. A living will has a different function. Most importantly, a living will gives health care instructions in the event that something tragic happens but you do not die. You can use it to say whether you want to be kept on life support, for instance. What you want and what your family may want if you are incapacitated can be two different things, and a living will lets you make those decisions now while you are healthy. It can also save family members from the burden of making those choices later.
With the help of a good lawyer, drafting a last will, living will, a health care directive or power of attorney is really an easy process. If you feel you would like to start the process or learn more about it, contact my office.