What to do about an emailed Will?

A family friend who has been in the family for 20 years passed away. He emailed me his wishes, and he estate. I’m not sure what to do now.

Asked on July 2, 2017 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A will is only valid if properly witnessed and signed. In New Jersey, that means that it must have been signed by the testator (person making the will) in the presence of two witnesses, who each also sign it in the presence of each other. If properly signed and witnessed, the will is enforceable: contact the probate court in the county in which your friend lived for instructions. If the alleged "will" was not properly signed and witnessed, however, it is not valid and will not be enforced, so an unsigned or unwitnessed emailed set of wishes has no power or effect. In this case, any assets of the deceased will pass according to the rules for "intestate succession," or who gets what when there is no will.


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