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In NJ to add a codicil to our will do the witnesses need to know us or can they be strangers?

Mount Laurel, NJ |

We understand that we need a notary & 2 witnesses that are not named in the will.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

The notarial form should state whether the notary knows the witnesses or whether they have probided ID (generally a driver license with photo). The witnesses do not need to know the person signing the Will or codicil - and that is generally best. It is a bad idea to have a beneficiary as a witness. Persons that you know - so long as they are not beneficiaries - can be witnesses to a Will or Codicil.

Lawrence A Friedman

Lawrence A Friedman

Posted

I agree that it is best to have two witnesses who are disinterested but an NJ will can be valid even if both witnesses are beneficiaries

Posted

They can be strangers, but they have to be competent adults, able to determine generally that you are of sound mind yourself (the formalities for a codicil are the same as for a will).

This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/

Lawrence A Friedman

Lawrence A Friedman

Posted

Not that I would recommend it, but a wii or codicil can be validly executed even if two witnesses are beneficiaries under the will. In addition, there is no need for a notary to make a valid will or codicil in NJ. A will must be acknowledged before a person authorized to take oaths (such as an NJ lawyer or notary) to make it self proving, not to make it valid. It is an incredibly bad idea to do a will or codicil w/o consulting a lawyer. Some of my largest fees many tens of thousands of dollars have involved estate litigation due to DIY wills that missed formalities, were ambiguous, or were subject to challenge, none of which would have arises if a quality lawyer had drafted the will. Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.

Posted

The witnesses can be total strangers. Make sure their correct addresses are on the will so they can be located if necessary after you pass. Make sure their names are clear. If they are strangers to you, they will be strangers to your family and your personal representative. If they need to be tracked down because there is a question regarding execution of your Will, you want to make it easy on everyone.

The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

Lawrence A Friedman

Lawrence A Friedman

Posted

There is no requirement to include witness addresses in an NJ will and it would be unusual to include the addresses in the will. It certainly is a good ideal to make a will self proving so there is no need to track down witnesses unless a will contest arises.

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