Have you ever wondered what happens if you don’t have a Will? The answer is that you die intestate, and the laws of the state in which you are domiciled govern. Since reading through the statutes can be tricky, I have created a sample Fake Will so that you can better visualize the effect of going through a New Jersey intestacy.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF “WILL” LESS
I, “WILL” LESS, do hereby forfeit my right to make, publish, and declare a Last Will and Testament.
I. GIFTS, BEQUESTS, AND DEVISES OF PROPERTY
A. If my spouse survives me and my parents are deceased, then my spouse shall receive my entire estate, and nothing shall go to my descendants (children or grandchildren) unless they are not my spouse’s children also. My spouse shall receive the entire amount even if we are in the process of getting a divorce and the divorce is not yet final.
B. If, however, I have descendants that are not also descendants of my spouse, and if my spouse survives me, then I leave to my spouse 25% of my estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus one-half of any balance of my estate, the other one-half shall go equally to such surviving descendants who are not related to my spouse.
C. If, however, I do not have any descendants, and if my spouse survives me, and if at least one of my parents also survives me, then I leave to my spouse 25% of my estate, but not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $200,000.00, plus three-fourths of any balance of my estate, the other one-fourth shall go to my parents, not to my spouse.
II. COURT ACCOUNTINGS
A. My spouse will be appointed the guardian of our joint children, but shall be required to report to the Probate Court, at such intervals as the court requires, to render an accounting of how, why, and where she spent the children’s money if the annual income for each child is greater than $5,000.
B. When a child of mine shall reach the age of 18 years, such child shall have the right to demand of my spouse, his/her mother, or father, a complete accounting of all financial transactions pertaining to his/her money.
III. PERFORMANCE BOND
A. Whatever poor soul decides to figure out my estate and pay my bills shall be required to purchase, at the expense of my estate, and produce to the Probate Court a Performance Bond to guarantee that he/she will exercise proper judgment in handling, investing, and spending the estate’s money. This Bond shall remain in force until the youngest of my children reaches the age of 18 years or the estate is closed, whichever is later. (Note, different rules may apply for small estates, under $50,000.)
IV. DISTRIBUTION TO ISSUE
A. When one of my issues shall reach the age of 18 years, he shall have an unfettered right to withdraw and to spend his share of my estate. No person or court may question the beneficiary’s readiness to manage large sums of cash and other property.
A. I forfeit my right to nominate the guardian of my children in case my spouse should predecease me or die while any of my children are minors.
B. Instead of my having nominated a guardian of my choice, my friends and relatives shall be permitted to select a guardian by mutual agreement, if same be possible.
C. In the event that they fail to agree, the Probate Court shall select the guardian of my children. The person selected may be a total stranger to me, or worse, someone I would not have chosen.
VI. DEATH TAXES
A. I give, devise, and bequeath to Uncle Sam and to the Governor of New Jersey the maximum amount of federal and state death taxes payable as the result of my death.
VII. FILING WITH COURT
A. Whomever agrees to act as my administrator must file a complaint with the Court. Unless my estate is less than $50,000, you may not utilize a simplified process.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand and seal to this, my Last Will and Testament, on this _____ day of ____________________, 20__.
For those interested, the New Jersey intestacy statutes can be found at NJSA 3B:5-1, et seq. For those who think this fake Will exaggerates the process, see the Mercer County NJ Surrogate’s Court website.