In NJ, can a parent write their natural children out of their will?

My father died in 2010. He left most of his assest in his will to his wife. His will was never probated in NJ. He was remarried and had 3 step children, I do not know if I have been named in his will and is that legal?

Moorestown, NJ -

Attorney Answers (3)

Thomas Devlin Begley III

Thomas Devlin Begley III

Estate Planning Attorney - Mount Laurel, NJ
Answered

In New Jersey, a parent can write his or her natural children out of a will and it is completely legal. The only person who has a legal right to an inheritance is a spouse so long as he or she has not waived said right via a prenuptial agreement. If the will was not probated, it is likely that the assets were transferred outside of a will to someone else. Having said the foregoing, you may still have rights. Approximately ten years ago, I won a case where all the assets passes to a stepmother via a joint account and the will was not probated. The will was discovered as well as evidence that the spouse was to divide the assets with the children from the first marriage. Get competent counsel now to review this matter with you to see whether or not you have a claime.

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Edward Joseph Smeltzer II

Edward Joseph Smeltzer II

Wills and Living Wills Lawyer - East Brunswick, NJ
Answered

So long as a person is competent to execute a Will they are free to exclude any or all of their children and can leave their property to whomever they wish. The only person who has a right to an inheritance is a surviving spouse, and that may be limited depending on the State in which the decedent resided.

Since you would be an heir absent a Will you are entitled to a copy of the Will however it is possible that no assets are controlled by the Will if your father owned all of his assets jointly with his wife or named her as beneficiary on assets directly with the companies holding the accounts.

Very truly yours,

Ed Smeltzer

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James Edward Schroeder III

James Edward Schroeder III

Estate Planning Attorney - Egg Harbor City, NJ
Answered

Yes a parent can write a child out of their will if the are competent at the time of drafting.

Was your father a resident of New Jersey when he passed?

Are you certain there was a will?

If he was a resident of New Jersey and there was a valid will that you can somehow obtain you should bring this to an estate/probate attorney and let them review the situation for you. You may have a cause of action.

Jim Schroeder is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and the District of Columbia. All information provided... more

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