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Unsigned Wills Considered "Harmless Error" By N.J. Courts

Jan 29 2018

Written by Jason C. Henbest, Esq. and Brittany Saxton

Generally, most states provide that a testator or testatrix must sign their Will in order for it to be considered valid. However, some states that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) are admitting unsigned Wills into probate as “harmless error.” New Jersey’s “harmless error” statute, N.J. Rev. Stat. § 3B:3-3, treats the document or writing as the decedent’s intent if it is established to the Court by clear and convincing evidence the decedent intended the writing to: be their Will, revoke a prior Will, alter or add to their Will, or partially or completely revive a formerly revoked Will.

This pragmatic legal trend takes into account human error, but the burden on a proponent of an unsigned will is difficult to overcome, making the cases that succeed few and far in between. To read more about this UPC-influenced trend, click here.

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