In New Jersey, completing an estate plan is a wise step. Even if it is a simple document like a no-frills will, it can go a long way in avoiding disagreements among heirs after the person – the testator – has passed on. Still, people make mistakes or do not update their will to reflect on changes in their lives. If, for example, the testator completed his or her will and got married afterward without altering it to name the spouse, it can sow confusion and outright acrimony. This might have been intentional. Under the law, this is addressed and should be understood from the outset.
How a new spouse is impacted by not being mentioned in a will
If a testator wrote a will and got married after that without changing it, the spouse is still entitled to a share of the estate. This is also true for a domestic partner. In this context, the proceeds of the person’s estate are viewed as an intestate share meaning that the spouse or domestic partner will get what they would have if the testator had died without having completed a will. There are stipulations that could supersede this law.
If the will was completed while the testator was preparing to get married or forming a domestic partnership and the spouse was omitted, then this does not apply. The will can also specifically state that the testator intended to leave the spouse or domestic partner out. If the testator provided for the spouse or domestic partner outside the will, then this too will avoid the need to treat that person as an intestate heir. To fall under this law, the will must have been executed after Sept. 1, 1978.
Addressing potential complications in an estate plan
Estate planning can be challenging and it is wise to be prepared for every possible eventuality. Whether a testator needs assistance with making their will current based on their new situation or the heirs are engaging in dispute over how much a post-will spouse is getting under the law, it is useful to have legal guidance. This includes understanding the law for various unexpected circumstances.