From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: I am the executor under my Uncle’s will (he is alive and living in Gloucester County). I would like to make a minor change to his will. My uncle agrees to the change. Do I need a lawyer to change the will?
Each competent person over the age of 18 can have a will, but only that person can change or modify the will. Your uncle is free to change the Will if he is still competent. The Executor is the person who carries out the terms of the Will after death, so right now you have no power to do anything, especially make changes.
Given your question, if the change benefits you over the other heirs, you are setting yourself up for a will challenge, lots of angry relatives and lot of expensive litigation. To avoid all of this, your uncle should contact an experienced New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer — without you being involved in any manner — and have that attorney make the change.
If your relative cannot do this on his own, he may not be competent to change the will. If he can do this on his own, a neutral Gloucester County Estate Planning Attorney will make the changes and then be able to testify that your relative was competent and not under undue influence to make the change. If you are not involved in that process then it will reduce the chances of a will contest. Will challenges are very expensive, so avoiding one is good for everybody.
If you have questions about Estate Planning in Gloucester County, New Jersey, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.