The Last Will & Testament of Alfred Nobel

The esteemed Nobel Prize is awarded only to those who show excellence in academics, science and cultural studies. Some of the most famous recipients include Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Junior, Marie Curie & Co. and Mother Teresa. Additionally, the Red Cross has received more Nobel Prizes than any other person or organization. However, what you probably don’t know about the Nobel Prize is that it was created in Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament.

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist and inventor who invented dynamite in the mid-late 1800s. By creating an explosive that was safer and easier to handle than nitroglycerin, Nobel quickly amassed a sizable fortune. Additionally, Nobel made wise investments in oil businesses owned by his brothers and accumulated a total of 350 patents, further increasing is already substantial wealth.

When Alfred Nobel died in 1896 in Italy, his surviving family was shocked at his Will. Instead of leaving any assets to his nephews (he had no children of his own), Nobel stipulated that his fortune should be used to award prizes to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” As a result, approximately $265 million went towards the creation of the Nobel Foundation.

In Nobel’s will, he explains that the prizes are to be split into five equal parts in the following areas:

  1. “One part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics;
  2. One part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement;
  3. One part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine;
  4. One part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction;
  5. And one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Alfred Nobel’s last Will and testament is a perfect example of how a Will can affect lives after death — the world is constantly affected by his last wishes. It also shows that as a testator, you have a choice about how you want your estate and assets disposed of after your passing. If would like to discuss your estate plan with an experienced attorney in Union County or Hunterdon County of New Jersey, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at or call 908-236-6457 today.

Common Questions about New Jersey Estate Administration


Becoming the Executor or personal representative of an estate is an important, yet often confusing, responsibility. Should a loved one or relative appoint you as Executor of their estate, you should contact an attorney. He/she can immediately alleviate much of the stress and confusion you experience as a result of your new obligation.

To further achieve that end, following are some common questions about NJ estate administration:

  • What is probate? — Probate is the legal process of validating a Will. To begin the probate process, go to the Surrogates Court with the original Will and the certificate of death. If the Will is not self-proven, one of the witnesses at the Will signing must validate the signature on the Will.
  • When do state inheritance taxes have to be paid? — In New Jersey, you must pay state inheritance taxes within eight months of the decedent’s death.
  • How can I retrieve a Will from a safety deposit box? — If you are the Executor of the Will, bring a copy of the Will with you that names you as the Executor. In some cases, a bank will allow the Executor to retrieve a Will with him or her present.
  • Do I have to serve as Executor of a will? — No, there is no law requiring you to serve as Executor of a Will. You may renounce your duty as Executor and the job will pass to the contingent executor if any exists. If there is no contingent executor, an Administrator will be appointed in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws.
  • How long does the probate process take? — The duration of the probate process depends on the complexity of the estate and the clarity and thoroughness of the Will. A vague Will may lead to a Will Contest, delaying the process further. Some large estates can take months or even years to settle.
  • What happens if there is no Will? — If no Will exists, an Administrator will be appointed to the estate and assets and property will be distributed based on New Jersey’s intestacy laws.

The job of an Executor can be daunting. Unless you have a background in law, you should not attempt the probate process alone. In the event you need help understanding estate administration in Hunterdon and Union Counties, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at or call 908-236-6457.

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