From Our “Ask a Question,” Mailbag: “I would like to do some estate planning in New Jersey without my husband. Can you make a will without your husband in New Jersey?”
Estate Planning Lawyer, Peter Klenk
Can You Make a Will Without Your Husband in New Jersey?
Yes, there is no requirement to tell your husband about your new Will. Your New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer can draft your Will without your Husband. While it is common for spouses to have wills written at the same time, this is not a requirement. A percentage of the Wills we draft every year is for married persons doing their New Jersey estate planning alone.
First, What makes a Will Valid in New Jersey? (Hint, telling your spouse is not on the list).
There are four main requirements for a valid New Jersey Will:
- Testamentary intent while signing the will;
- Do you intend this document to be a Will?
- Testamentary capacity;
- Do you have enough metal acuity to sign a Will?
- No fraud, duress, undue influence or mistake; and
- The method used to sign your Will must satisfy New Jersey law.
- Each state has specific rules which, if not followed, invalidates a Will.
Noticeably missing from this list, informing your spouse.
Common Examples of When You Would Not Inform Your Husband About Your New New Jersey Will.
New Wills are often drafted when a couple splits up. Whether the couple files for divorce or not, both spouses typically write new Wills reflecting the situation. For example, Rich and Beth Gloucester have separated. Beth Gloucester retains a New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer to help her develop an Estate Plan. Her new will forms a trust for the children and names her sister as executor and trustee. Beth has no obligation to inform her husband about this new Will.
Illness also can trigger a spouse to draft their own Will. For example, Barb Bordentown’s husband, Bob, had a massive stroke. His recovery will be long and difficult. Until he is back on his feet, Barb worries if he can manage his own money. Just in case she dies before him, she has her Burlington County Estate Planning Attorney draft her a new Will. This Will forms a protective trust for Bob. Should she die first, their children serve as trustees with the power to pay for Bob’s care. Barb’s Will is valid even if she does not inform Bob.
For more information about what is a valid will, follow this link to my article about Estate Planning.
Can I Make Medical Power of Attorney or Durable General Power of Attorney Without my Husband’s Knowledge in New Jersey?
Yes, this is even more common than having a Will unknown to your husband. In New Jersey, no rule obligates you to name your husband to serve as your Medical or Financial Agent. Circumstances can easily exist when you name a third person with or without your husband’s knowledge.
For example, Evelyn Evesham has always managed the family’s money. Her husband, Eddie Evesham, is a nice fellow, but terrible with money. Concerned when she starts having medical issues, Evelyn hires a Burlington County Estate Planning Attorney to draft a new estate plan. One of these documents, her Durable Power of Attorney, names her brother as Finacial Agent. If she is unable to manage her money, her brother has the authority to act, not her husband. Evelyn’s Durable Power of Attorney is valid even if she has not informed her husband.
Another example, Robin Riverton’s husband Ron faints at the sight of blood. He hates being in hospitals and refuses to talk about his wife’s medical care. Robin has her New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyer draft her a new Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will. In this document, she names her friend Pam Palmyra as her Medical Power of Attorney. If Robin is ever unable to speak for herself on medical matters, Pam will step in. Pam can authorize treatment, select Robin’s doctors, and even agree with the doctor about removing medical treatment. This document is a valid Living Will whether or not she informs her husband.
For more information, follow this link to read more about Living Wills and this link to learn more about Durable General Powers of Attorney.
In Conclusion: Can You Make a Will Without Your Husband in New Jersey?
I hope you found helpful this short article responding to the question, Can You Make a Will Without Your Husband in New Jersey. I have also included some links for more detailed information. If you are curious about updating your Will, Power of Attorney, or Living Will, contact us and let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
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