Execution of the Willerror

To be effective, a will must be written, signed by the testator and witnessed by at least two people, or the signature and material provisions are in his/her handwriting. The latter is not recommended because these wills , referred to as holographic wills, cannot be probated in the Surrogate’s Court but must be presented to the Superior Court.

Each witness must personally witness the signing of the will. Witnesses do not have to read the will or know it’s contents. However, they must be told by the testator that it is his will, and that he wants them to be witnesses to its execution.

While the law permits a beneficiary to witness a will, it is recommended that a beneficiary-witness be used only when a disinterested party is not available. In this way, possible future challenges may be avoided.

NJ Statutes also allow the witnesses and testator to sign the will in the presence of a Notary Public or attorney making the will “self-proven”. This relieves the witnesses from appearing in the Surrogate’s Court to
prove their signature at the time of probate.

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