ASSEMBLY, No. 2908

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

220th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 28, 2022

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman †JAY WEBBER

District 26 (Essex, Morris and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Provides that will is not valid unless signed by testator or substantially written in testatorís handwriting.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning wills and amending N.J.S.3B:3-3 and N.J.S.3B:3-2.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† N.J.S.3B:3-2 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3B:3-2.†† Execution; witnessed wills; writings intended as wills.

†††† a.†††† Except as provided in subsection b. of this section and in N.J.S.3B:3-3, a will shall be:

†††† (1)†† in writing;

†††† (2)†† signed by the testator or in the testator's name by some other individual in the testator's conscious presence and at the testator's direction; and

†††† (3)†† signed by at least two individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after each witnessed either the signing of the will as described in paragraph (2) or the testator's acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.

†††† b.††† A will that does not comply with subsection a. is valid as a writing intended as a will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and material portions of the document are in the testator's handwriting.

†††† c.†††† Intent that the document constitutes the testator's will can be established by extrinsic evidence, including for writings intended as wills, portions of the document that are not in the testator's handwriting.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.160, s.2)

†††† 2.††† N.J.S.3B:3-3 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3B:3-3.††† Writings intended as wills.

†††† Although a document or writing added upon a document was not executed in compliance with N.J.S.3B:3-2, the document or writing is treated as if it had been executed in compliance with N.J.S.3B:3-2 if:

†††† a.†††† the document or writing is signed by the testator or is substantially in the testatorís handwriting; and

†††† b.††† the proponent of the document or writing establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended the document or writing to constitute: (1) the decedent's will; (2) a partial or complete revocation of the will; (3) an addition to or an alteration of the will; or (4) a partial or complete revival of his formerly revoked will or of a formerly revoked portion of the will.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.160, s.3)

 

†††† 3.††† This act shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable to any will or other document purporting to be a will filed with the Surrogate on or after the effective date.

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill would provide that a will is not valid unless it is signed by the testator or substantially written in the testatorís handwriting.

†††† Under current law, set out in N.J.S.3B:3-2, a will is generally valid only if it is in writing, signed by the testator (or signed by another person in the testatorís presence and at his direction), and signed by at least two witnesses. There are exceptions to these requirements: (1) A will that does not comply with the requirements can still be valid as ďa writing intended as a willĒ if the signature and material portions of the document are in the testatorís handwriting; or, (2) pursuant to N.J.S.3B:3-3, a document or writing can be treated as a valid will if the proponent establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended it to constitute his will.

†††† In In re Estate of Ehrlich, 427 N.J. Super. 64 (App. Div. 2012), the Appellate Division upheld as a valid will a copy of a typed document that was titled ďLast Will and TestamentĒ but was not signed by the testator or by any witnesses.† The court held that under the circumstances the typed document was a valid will, because it was intended by the decedent to constitute his will and therefore complied with the provisions of N.J.S.3B:3-3.

†††† This bill is intended to overturn the Ehrlich decision as applied to future cases. The bill provides that a document or writing may be treated as a valid will only if, in addition to a showing by the proponent of the decedentís intent, the document or writing is signed by the testator or is substantially in the testatorís handwriting.

†††† The bill would apply to any will or other document purporting to be a will filed with the Surrogate on or after the billís effective date.