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Answers from a Will Lawyer Allentown, PA Offers

Common Questions When Creating an Estate Plan

Will Lawyer Allentown, PAPeople who are planning their estate may experience a mixture of feelings. It can be difficult to imagine how things will be when you are no longer with your family and friends. However, mortality is part of being human, and we must prepare for our passing to the best of our ability. Not writing a will or forming a revocable trust increases the danger of your assets being divided up by the court using intestacy laws. If you want your last wishes respected, then consider meeting with a will lawyer in Allentown, PA from Klenk Law.

Here in this article we have answered several questions that people often have when writing their will. We are available to help you with your will as well as any other estate planning tools that may suit you. Contact us for a free consultation with our will lawyer in Allentown, PA to learn more, including ways to save on estate taxes.

What are the steps I should take when writing my will?
The idea of planning one’s estate might be daunting and overwhelming at first. If you focus on accomplishing one step at a time, it can seem less distressing than you originally believed. Keep in mind that our will lawyer in Allentown, PA can guide you through each step.

  • For starters, you may want to make a list of all of those friends and family members who are closest to you. Think of the people who you want to have a piece of your legacy in the event of your passing. These could be relatives, close friends, mentors, or even non-profit organizations.
  • Secondly, compile a list of your assets, belongings, sentimental treasures, etc. Include anything that belongs to you that you want to pass on to another person. Then, you can specify which of your assets should be distributed to each loved one.

What if there are family members that I want to exclude from my will?
You are not required to include all of your family members in your will. Exclusion is one of the reasons for writing a will. If you do not plan your estate with a will or trust, the probate court might distribute your assets to family members you would otherwise not include. For added assurance, your will lawyer in Allentown, PA from Klenk Law can add wordage that excludes those persons explicitly, with or without an explanation from you in the will.

Should I meet with an attorney for a final review of my estate plan?

Many people choose to work with a will lawyer in Allentown, PA for feedback and guidance. Those who have never written a will can genuinely benefit from the advice of a legal professional. Also, you may discover that there are additional choices for estate planning that you may not be aware of, such as trusts.  It’s essential to have a full understanding of your options.

Wills and Unmarried Couples

Creating a will is an important task to complete and a will lawyer Allentown, PA community members rely on can make the process easier. It is often difficult to think of creating a will because it forces you to think about a time when you won’t be alive. However, if you do not create a will, your wishes may not be considered. The will can affect who receives your property, who will take care of your minor children, and your final resting place.

An essential factor to consider when writing a will is if you are in a committed relationship with someone who is not your legally recognized spouse or partner. It could be a disaster for your loved one if you die without a will stating what they are to receive. Without a will or a legally recognized marriage, your property your blood relatives instead of your partner acquire your assets. This can even include the house they are living in and had lived in with you while you were still alive. To prevent this from happening, you should consider contacting a will lawyer in Allentown, PA from Klenk Law. Our legal team can guide you through the process.  Let’s make sure your your plan reflects your wishes.

Common Law Marriage

There is an urban myth that regardless of where you live in the US if you live with your partner for seven years you’re automatically legally married. This is not the case. Only 15 states and Washington, D.C. view common law marriage as valid, but they have strict guidelines. Pennsylvania no longer recognizes common law marriage. A will lawyer Allentown, PA residents turn to from our firm can clarify how the law applies in your circumstances, but it could mean proving that many years ago before the rules changed you:

  • Used the same last name
  • Referred to one another as spouses
  • Filed joint income tax returns

Living Together Contract

Most states recognize a living together contract. This contract is a written agreement between both parties in the unmarried couple that states possession of the property and other belongings. It can help ensure that property is left to the living party according to whatever decision the couple makes. A living together contract does not replace a will but might help avoid probate. Talk to a will lawyer Allentown; PA couples trust from our legal team to discover if this solution will meet your needs.

Protect Your Partner’s Rights

If you are in a committed relationship but you are not married, you will want to take action to protect your partner after your death. Otherwise, a blood relative may be able to prevent your partner from inheriting your property. You should consider taking these steps with the help of a will lawyer Allentown, PA locals recommend:

  • Create a will that states your partner is to receive whatever you would like them to inherit.
  • Name your partner as the beneficiary of your life insurance policies.
  • Establish a trust currently that transfers your property for your partner’s care while incurring minimal taxes.

To truly protect your partner after your death, an efficient way is to create a will. The lawyers at Klenk Law have over 25 years of experience in creating wills. Call Klenk Law at 484-224-3051 to help protect your loved one with the help of a will lawyer Allentown, PA offers.

What if I die without a will?

It can be difficult to think about contacting a will lawyer Allentown, PA to create a will because the thought of dying may be scary. And yet, not having a will can make it even more difficult for your loved ones after your passing. They will be left with questions and perhaps varying opinions as to your final wishes. In addition to their grief, they may experience anger and betrayal with each other, leading to in-fighting. As our will lawyer Allentown, PA will tell you, this occurs often, even in families that are close-knit. When death and money can easily fray the best relationships. Having a will in place that clearly identifies who will inherit which of your personal belongings and assets, and the reasoning behind your decisions can prevent a tremendous amount of added heartache.

What is probate?

Another reason to plan one’s estate is to reduce the risk of your estate having to go through the probate process. Probate is a legal process that involves the court system to establish who should inherit which of the decedent’s assets and who should be the guardian of the minor children if there are any. If the person left behind a will, probate can be partially or wholly avoided. If you work with an estate planning lawyer to draw up a will and or trust, very likely your heirs will not have to suffer through probate at all. There are several estate planning tools available that ensure your final wishes are legally recognized.  Allow Klenk Law to help you. Call us today and make an appointment with our will lawyer Allentown, PA who can make this process as easy as possible.

What are estate taxes?

State and/or federal taxes exist.  These taxes hinge on to whom you leave your assets and your estate’s value. There are other rules as well. If you work with a will lawyer Allentown, PA from our firm, any tax obligations that will be assessed after your passing will be identified. Further, there are options for structuring your estate plan in such a way as to eliminate any taxes that will be owed. After a careful review of your assets and other important variables, your Klenk Law will lawyer Allentown, PA will explain everything you need to know. In addition, we can address all your planning and probate concerns.

What To Include in Your Will

When you’re doing your estate planning, much of the work will go into creating your last will and testament. Your will needs to be specific and detailed to ensure your final wishes are carried out to the letter. Here are some important things your will lawyer in Allentown, PA, could suggest to include in your will.

The Basics

Your will must include your name, date of birth, and address to avoid having it confused with someone else’s will who has the same name as you. It also has to include certain phrases to identify it as a will. One such phrase is, “This is my last will and testament.” You need to name an executor of your estate, someone who will oversee your estate and ensure your final wishes are adhered to. Your will must also include your signature and, most likely, signatures of witnesses or a notary public.

A List of Assets

From your stock portfolio to great-aunt Mabel’s fine china, from your bank accounts to your salt and pepper shaker collection, everything you own should be listed in your will so you can specify what you want to happen to your belongings when you’ve passed away. Include all your financial documentation, including checking and savings account numbers, trusts, CDs, stock brokerage accounts, annuities and mortgage papers. Your Klenek Law will lawyer in Allentown, PA may be able to help you make a list of assets.

A List of Beneficiaries

Once you’ve listed your assets, you need to list where you want those assets to go. Your beneficiaries can include relatives, friends, charities, businesses and trusts. A will lawyer in Allentown, PA, from Klenek Law can help you determine who can and can’t be a beneficiary of your estate after you’ve died. Keep in mind, a will can’t distribute your life insurance proceeds, property held in a living trust or any assets that have a joint title. Life insurance and living trusts have their own beneficiaries, and assets in joint title pass to the other party on death.

Child Custody Arrangements

If you have minor children, it’s crucial that you have a will specifying their guardianship in the event of your death. If your will doesn’t spell out who you want taking care of your kids, they could become wards of the state and go into the foster care system. Choose your children’s guardian carefully; you want your children raised the way you would raise them if you were still living. You might want to list two or three potential guardians in case something happens and your first choice of guardian isn’t available for some unforeseeable reason. 

5 Steps to Writing a Will

When writing a will, there are many factors to consider and details to address. Your will lawyer in Allentown, PA can guide you through the process to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Determine What Type of Will You Need

A last will and testament is the most common type of document in an estate plan, but there are many different instruments to choose from. A trust could be a better option if you have a lot of assets to bequeath and would like to minimize taxes that beneficiaries will pay.

Choose an Executor

An executor is a person who carries through with the wishes outlined in the will. This person should be reliable, organized, and able to carry out a difficult series of tasks while also grieving. For this reason, it may not be best to name a partner or a child as will executor, and it may instead be wise to appoint a will lawyer in Allentown, PA to execute your will. In either case, the executor should know their role before the time comes so they are prepared to accept or decline the responsibility.

Decide What Assets You Are Bequeathing

You can list almost anything you own on a will with few exceptions (including illegal drugs). You may bequeath clothing, electronics, real estate, life insurance policies, and savings accounts, for example. Other considerations include your diary or unfinished novels and whether they should be published or destroyed by a trusted person. Discuss your options with Klenek Law to figure out what to do with your most treasured items.

Figure Out Who Cares For Your Animals

According to the law, animal friends are considered property. Be sure to delineate who receives and cares for your animal. If you do not have a trusted friend or relative, find an animal santuary and make arrangements with them. If you do not list somebody, your animal will likely go to the local animal shelter, an nobody wants that. Klenek Law can help your whole animal family figure out the best plan.

Decide Who Receives Your Assets

Anyone who receives something through your will needs to be specifically named in the document. Beneficiaries can include family, friends, neighbors, charities, businesses, or anyone else. If you like, include local charities when it comes to things your family doesn’t want, such as household items. Your will lawyer in Allentown, PA can help you ensure you include everybody you love or would like to help out.

Common Misconceptions About Wills and Why You Need One

Coming to terms with your mortality can be daunting, planning for it even more so. Nobody likes thinking about their death, but not having a will ready when you pass can be devastating for your loved ones in the aftermath. Due to this discomfort, people do not often discuss the process of writing a will which can lead to several misconceptions about wills. Here are a few common myths about wills and why they’re misleading:

Myth: Your Spouse Will Receive Everything When You Pass

If you die without a written will in place, your spouse is indeed entitled to your estate by law. However, due to the way each state writes its interstate succession laws, they may not be entitled to everything you’d want them to have. For example, in Pennsylvania, your parents are entitled to a part of your estate under intestate succession laws, so when you pass your spouse would split the estate with them.

Furthermore, not all assets can be passed through intestate succession. Some examples of assets that are non-transferable under Pennsylvania interstate succession laws include funds in a 401 K or other retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds and any property in a living trust. To ensure that all of your assets are bequeathed to the correct person after death, schedule an appointment with a will lawyer in Allentown, PA.

Myth: I don’t Need a will Because…

Oftentimes young people make the mistake of believing they don’t need a will because of their age or relationship status. However, having a will is a smart move no matter what age you are because nobody can predict when they are going to die. Accidents may happen at any time. In fact, the peak age for accidental poisoning deaths, the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United States, is 35.

Another common misconception about writing a will is that you don’t need one if you’re single. This is false for two reasons: first, even if there’s truly nobody you want to leave your estate to upon passing you may want to block someone’s claim to it via interstate succession. Secondly, consider who will care for your beloved pet when you’re gone. Having a written will allows you to leave a detailed plan stipulating exactly what should happen to your furry friend once you’ve passed.

Thinking about your death is never pleasant, but planning for it is vital to everyone. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re exempt because of age, relationship status or any other reason. Writing a will is a necessary process for everyone because nobody lives forever.

If I don’t have substantial assets, do I still need to write a will?
Though technically nobody is required to write a will, estate planning can be beneficial for most people, even those who do not own substantial assets. When our Allentown, PA will lawyer sits down with you and reviews your circumstances, if any of the following is true for you then a will and/or trust can address these issues after your passing:

  •         You have one or more minor children and you want to specify who should be their legal guardian.
  •         One or more assets or sentimental items should pass them on to certain people.
  •         You wish to have your final remains interred in a specific way and/or location.
  •         Avoiding probate is one of your goals.
  •         You do not want your loved ones to have any confusion or heartache about who you would want to inherit particular possessions or assets.

Learn more about the importance of planning one’s estate by talking with our Allentown, PA will lawyer during a free and confidential consultation—call Klenk Law today to make an appointment.

What makes a will valid, and can I make a handwritten will if I don’t have any significant assets? 

Ask any will lawyer Allentown, PA has to offer, and you’ll likely hear that a will is the most basic of all estate planning documents. It can detail what you would like to be done with your assets upon your death and describe who you would want to care for any minor children or adults with special needs. It is only valid when you sign it and have it witnessed with certain formalities in mind. In general, you should always have a lawyer review your will. This is because even one wrong or misused word could impact your overall wishes. If you would like to learn more about a will, please call Klenk Law to speak with a will lawyer in Allentown, PA for free. 

What makes a will legally valid?
Any adult, who is of sound mind, can legally make a will. Beyond this the will should include: 
  • Signatures from at least two witnesses  (PA being an exception)
  • A date
  • Your signature

Most states do not require a will to be notarized, but this can help and might simplify the court procedures. You also do not have to file a will with a government office or entity; however, some states offer this option to residents. It is essential that your will is kept in a safe place. You should ensure the executor of the will knows where to access it. 

You might not need a will lawyer Allentown; PA can provide to write a will that leaves small investments, a single-family home, or personal items to family members or friends. However, if significant assets are a factor, or your situation is beyond one that is standard to an individual, you’ll likely want to consult a will lawyer Allentown, PA can trust.

Can I make a handwritten will if I don’t have any significant assets?

A handwritten and unwitnessed will, also known a holographic will, is legal in approximately 25 states. For a holographic will to be valid, it needs to be written and signed in your handwriting (or the handwriting of whoever is making the will). Depending on the state, this document might also need to be dated to be valid. Some states will also accept DIY/fill-in-the-blank style forms, as long as your handwriting is on it and it is signed and dated.

In general, a holographic will is better than no will, providing that it is valid in your state. A will that is signed in front of a legal witness is better. If your handwritten will is contested or reviewed in a probate court, the judge will likely meticulously examine it to ensure it is legitimate. Furthermore, if your will contradicts other things you have said, is contrary to what you initially intended, or is ambiguous, your final wishes might not be carried out as you wish. When this happens, your beneficiaries might have to hire an Allentown will lawyer for assistance.

Contact a Will Lawyer Allentown, PA Families Depend On

To learn more about the distribution of the aforementioned assets, wills, or other viable solutions for estate planning, please call Klenk Law today. Guided by more than 25 years of experience and a passion for our profession, we have successfully created legally binding wills, trusts, and estate plans for many clients and their loved ones. For a consultation with a will lawyer Allentown, PA families trust, please call 215-790-1095.

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