A will is a legal document which allows a person, the “testator”, to state, with specificity, what they want to happen with their property and assets after their death. No one wants to think about their own death, but it is important for everyone to make sure that their family and loved ones are taken care of if anything should happen to them.
If you do not have a will, you are deemed to have died “intestate” and Pennsylvania state law will determine what happens to your assets, who will inherit your property and who will take custody of children. A court may decide to leave property and assets to people you would not have ever dreamed of considering and leave family, friends and loved ones that you want to provide for with nothing. In fact, in particular situations, the state itself will take control of your property and assets after you pass.
People are often very diligent in managing their finances and property during their life, but those same people fail to plan for what will happen after their death. Often, people think that they are too young for a will or that they will eventually have a will drafted in the future, but that they do not need a will now. Or often, someone just “hasn’t gotten around to it”. The truth of the matter is, that if a person, young or old, wants to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled after death, a will is a necessity, now, not later.
A well drafted and thorough will further allows the testator to designate an Executor who will carry out the administration of the estate rather than letting the burden fall to family members. A will has other advantages too, including the ability to minimize tax consequences.
Is an attorney required to make a will? The short answer is no. But as with any legal document, you will want to make sure that the document is legally binding and that your wishes will be carried out as you had intended. What no one wants is to think that everything will be appropriately taken care of, when in fact, the document as drafted is defective in some way. For this reason, especially when dealing with more complex estates, an attorney is highly recommended.
We represent clients throughout Central Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, Lemoyne, Carlisle, Hershey, York, Lancaster, Lebanon and Perry and Juniata Counties.