Do I Need a Will in PA? This article will help you decide. Skip to Content

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Do I Need a Will in PA?

Posted on Thu May 9, 2024, on Uncategorized

From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “I am a young professional considering whether I need a Will. I have some assets I would like to protect, but I am not what is necessary at this point in my life. What other factors should I consider when making this decision? How do I know if I need a will in PA?”

Do I Need a Will in PA

Estate Planning Lawyer Paige Zirrith.

What is a Will, and Do I Need a Will in PA?

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document you, the Testator, put together during your lifetime outlining your estate’s division and administration. Your estate planning attorney can tailor the plan to address your unique situation. You should address your assets and debts, the care of your pets, and your overall family structure and dynamic.

Many people put off the estate planning process for various reasons. While you may think you don’t need a Will, it is never too soon. If your life circumstances change, you can continually update your Will or create a new one. However, if you die without a Will, your loved ones will be left at the mercy of the rules of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Do I Need a Will in PA at My Age? 

Even if you think you do not have anything worth protecting at this stage in life, you could benefit from many functions of a Will. Most people have numerous digital accounts, such as social media platforms, email accounts, and financial applications. Your loved ones will need authorization to access and properly close down these accounts. For digital assets, such as cryptocurrency, it is illegal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for someone to access your assets following your death without proper authorization.

With a Will, you can determine the person you want to handle these affairs and explicitly provide authorization to avoid unnecessary time and confusion. When considering whether you need a Will in PA, you should consider not only your tangible assets but also your online presence.

What Provisions Do I Need in a PA Will?

A Will isn’t just for naming beneficiaries. You likely have many more issues to address than you are aware. If you have minor children, you can name a guardian for them if you pass before they become legal adults. Pets? You can select someone you know who will take them in and even set aside funds to ensure they are appropriately cared for. If you have treasured possessions such as collectible items or family heirlooms, you may want to leave these items to a particular person.

If you have debts, your estate will be responsible for paying some of these debts even after you pass. You can provide information and guidance on how you would like these debts satisfied from your estate and how this factors into your beneficiaries’ share of your estate.

 

Another critical aspect of a Will is setting out instructions for disposing of your remains. Most people have strong feelings about how they would like to be laid to rest. Few people communicate these feelings to their loved ones, and even fewer memorialize those wishes in a legal document. Laying out who is responsible and how you would like them to handle it takes added stress out of this difficult process.

Who Will Administer Your Estate?

One of the most critical provisions in your Will is the appointment of the Executor of your estate. Whether you have a will in place or not, someone will need to be responsible for administrating your estate. The Executor’s role is an essential one. When someone dies, many tasks must be completed. Someone must be appointed as the estate’s Executor to file necessary tax returns, close bank accounts, sell houses, etc. You want this process to be easy, straightforward, and inexpensive.

In Pennsylvania, the estate’s Executor is responsible for statutory requirements such as notices to beneficiaries. Executors complete a fair amount of work before making estate distributions. With such a vital role, why would anyone want that decision without their input? While creating your estate plan, you should decide who is best suited to serve this role. Also, setting out the Executor compensation would be a good idea.

Do I Need a Will in PA and What Happens If I Die Without One?

If you die without a valid Will, your estate will pass through the state’s intestacy provisions. The rules of intestate succession will decide who your probate assets go to, which may or may not align with what you would have chosen. Without a Will, the state cannot guess who you would have provided for in your Will, so there must be a default answer. This default answer could be vastly different than your wishes. Suppose your family members were aware of these wishes or have differing opinions about your wishes from each other. Being vague increases the chance of expensive conflict. A property estate plan avoids putting your family in a challenging situation during an already trying time.

In Conclusion: Do I Need a Will in PA?

We hope this short article about whether you need a will in PA will be helpful to you. Contact us if you want to know more or need our help creating an estate plan tailored to your needs. Let our estate planning lawyers help you walk you through what can be a confusing process. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. 

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Article by Attorney Paige Zirrith.

 

Peter KlenkPeter Klenk

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