Wills are an essential part of the aging process, but shouldn’t be overlooked until later in life. There are difficulties associated with dying without a plan that can cause legal complications for your relatives and your estate. Though it can be difficult to think about preparing, knowing your way around a will and the steps necessary to get one could save you and your family considerable headaches in the future. Here’s what you need to know about getting yourself set up with a strong and enforceable will.
Purpose of A Will: It can be used for many purposes, the most significant of which includes correctly distributing your property and belongings to individuals or groups from who you would like to benefit. Additionally, it can be used to set forth requirements for the care of any minor children you have, along with the property you would like to entrust to minor children when you come of age. Also important in the will is the naming of an executor, who will work to make sure that your wishes are carried out after you have passed on.
Without A Will: If you should die before being able to establish a proper will, the state will run through its own hierarchy of family to determine who will legally receive your property. It will go first to any surviving spouse or children, then to grandchildren, your parents, or anyone else along a log stretching line of known relatives. In the event that the court cannot identify any living relatives, all your assets will become the property of the state.
Lawyers, Signatures, and Notaries: The basic requirements for wills can vary from state to state, so it’s very important to recognize what is and isn’t required for a valid will in the state of Pennsylvania. While you don’t necessarily need a lawyer for your will to be legally acceptable, it is generally more reliable to make sure a lawyer oversees the proceedings of a will to ensure that they are legally sound and will actually accomplish what you intend to set forth.
At a bare minimum, you need to make sure that your will is signed by yourself and two witnesses who watch you do so. It does not need to be notarized, but doing so will make it officially ‘self-proving’, and the proceedings of carrying out your will can go on without contacting the witnesses you had at the time of signing. In the will, you should also be sure to name an executor you trust to carry out your wishes after your death; this is generally a close and reliable family member, but maybe a lawyer or other reputable party.
At Smith & Horwitz, we are dedicated to providing you with compassionate and experienced legal services throughout the proceedings of creating or carrying out a will. For a free phone consultation about how our services will work for you, give us a call today at (215) 515-8464. We look forward to serving you and your family throughout the will process.