Estate planning in New Jersey: what you need to know

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated June 28, 2024

Find out what you need for effective New Jersey estate planning and how estate taxes in the Garden State differ from others in the US.


  • Estate planning in New Jersey typically costs between $550 and $6,400. 

  • New Jersey is one of 38 states that does not require estate tax. This ruling was made in 2018. 

  • Organ donation is mandatory in New Jersey unless you have opted out before your passing. 

  • If you need help managing your estate, a financial advisor can help point you in the right direction and ensure you’re making smart decisions when it comes to your money.  

How much does estate planning cost in New Jersey? 

The cost of estate planning in New Jersey ranges between $550 and $6,400.  

In some cases, the amount may be higher if the estate is particularly complicated to wrap up or you need multiple attorneys. 

The total bill for estate planning in New Jersey consists of several smaller bills related to attorney’s fees, health care directives, will and testament drafting, and trust administration.  

New Jersey’s typical estate planning costs are considered average in comparison to other states. It is more affordable than New York’s expense range of up to $10,000 and more expensive than Idaho’s average of $4,000. 

How does New Jersey estate tax work? 

Since 2018, the state of New Jersey has not required citizens to pay estate tax.  

That means that regardless of estate size or value, deceased estate owners will not owe the state of New Jersey any tax. However, federal taxes are still required and can vary depending on the estate. 

If a married couple jointly holds an estate, it automatically goes to the remaining spouse in the event of the other’s passing.  

The proceeds of life insurance policies are not included as part of the estate; they must be filed and distributed separately.  

How does estate planning for blended families work in New Jersey? 

Effective estate planning for blended families in New Jersey means laying out very clear instructions about what you pass on to whom in the event of your passing. 

Without explicit instructions otherwise, stepchildren will not receive inheritance automatically, as a biological child might. 

How does tax planning for single parents work in New Jersey? 

Tax planning for single parents in New Jersey requires special consideration.  

In the event of an estate owner’s passing, minor children’s custody and inheritance must be explicitly clear in the deceased’s will; otherwise, parental rights will be difficult to navigate for those left behind. 

How does tax planning for married couples work in New Jersey? 

Tax and estate planning for married couples involves including your spouse in your last will and testament.  

As is the case with most tax procedures, debt automatically rolls over from the deceased to their remaining partner. 

How does probate work in New Jersey? 

Probate is the process of distributing a person’s estate and various assets after their death.  

Once all of the assets have been transferred to their designated beneficiaries, probate is complete. 

Probate works largely the same in New Jersey as it does in other states, with one minor but important difference: New Jersey probate happens regardless of whether the deceased has a valid will. Usually, a will is needed for probate to commence, but in New Jersey, it isn’t. 

Since probate is mandatory, failing to file it can result in an insolvent estate. An insolvent estate is what happens when creditors or anyone you owe money to can file suit against your estate. 

Probate filings should happen within ten years of the estate owner’s death. 

What are the final arrangements and organ donation laws in New Jersey? 

New Jersey is one of several states where adult organ donation is considered obligatory unless the deceased has opted out before their passing. 

New Jersey law states that if the deceased has not specified their final arrangements (cremation, burial, etc.), the right to control this decision falls onto the next of kin in this order: legal spouse, majority of surviving children over the age of 18, surviving parents, and majority of surviving siblings over the age of 18. 

Your New Jersey estate planning checklist 

If you haven’t created an estate plan yet, using this estate planning checklist for New Jersey can be a useful guide for the process. 

  • Last will and testament 

According to New Jersey law, a person’s last will and testament do not need to be filed until the testator has passed away. Executors must file the final will within ten days of the death in order to initiate the probate process. 

  • Healthcare documentation 

Gathering the right healthcare documentation is essential for estate planning in New Jersey. Having a living will can help appoint trusted beneficiaries to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated before your passing. 

  • Trusts 

In addition to the security and explicitness of a will, trusts offer more time and flexibility for estate planning in New Jersey. While a trust ensures that your estate is handled as per your wishes posthumously, a trust allows you to safeguard assets for an extended period. 

There are two main types of trusts used in this context: revocable and irrevocable trusts. Revocable trusts permit changes made by named heirs, and irrevocable trusts cannot be changed unless all beneficiaries sign off on modifications. 

  • Power of attorney 

Power of attorney refers to the handing over of financial and legal power to a lawyer or trusted individual. In New Jersey, you can name a power of attorney in your will to ensure efficient, fast management of your estate. 

  • Pre-needed guardian 

A pre-needed guardian is someone you appoint in your will to take care of you if you become incapacitated before death. 

Get expert financial advice 

With its 0% estate taxes and lengthy probate period, estate planning in New Jersey is a relatively tax-advantaged and manageable process.  

Find out more about tax and estate planning in New Jersey by letting Unbiased match you with a financial advisor who will offer expert advice and guidance.


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.