Creating a Will in PA
Schuylkill County Estate Attorney
Creating a will is a great first step estate planning. Whether you are a parent, homeowner, single or married, establishing a will creates a legally binding document with instructions on how your property and other assets will be distributed after you die. Once you have passed away, wills become irrevocable, meaning they can no longer change. Our Schuylkill County estate attorney has extensive experience helping the residents of Schuylkill County and surrounding areas prepare their wills. As part of the firm’s elder care practice, the estate attorneys also prepare living will health care directive and power of attorney estate planning documents which are helpful to family prior to your passing.
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What Transpires if I Die Without a Will?
If you die without a will in Pennsylvania, an administrator will have to be appointed to open an estate. Then your property will be distributed based on intestacy laws. Intestacy laws outline how to distribute your property and other assets to your closest relatives starting with your spouse and children. If you do not have a spouse or children, your property will be distributed in accordance with the PEF Code. If no known living blood relatives are found, your property may escheat to the state. The administrator is vested with the responsibility to pay debts and administration fees from the estate assets before any remaining assets are distributed to heirs. An executor, where a will exists, performs essentially the same functions.
Drafting Your Will
When creating your will, you have the option to name beneficiaries. Beneficiaries could be your spouse, children, other family members, friends or charities you wish to gift your assets. We recommend naming an executor in your will who will be responsible for the management and distribution of property according to the instructions outlined in your will. The executor should be a responsible party whom you trust to carry out your wishes. Your original will should be probated in court with the county Register of Wills office once you pass to promptly appoint an executor who will gather debts and liabilities, in addition to an inventory of your assets. An inheritance tax return will also be prepared and filed, and taxes paid to the state Department of Revenue. The applicable tax rate depends upon the degree of heir, or class of beneficiary, from the decedent.
Below is a list of what items you may include in your will.
- Special Bequeaths of particular property such as family heirlooms and real estate.
- Guardianship of Minor Children: If you pass away before your children are adults, you can designate who will care for your minor children through adulthood. For example, you can include instructions for your spouse to be the sole guardian of your minor children should you pass before them. Or, if you and your spouse both pass away while your children are minors, you can name an adult guardian.
- Manage Property for Minor Children: If there is property you wish to gift to your minor children after you pass, you could designate a responsible, trusted adult to be the manager of this property until your children come of age as a trustee.
- Gifting of Assets: Your will is also a legal document where you can designate who to gift your assets to, but it can only include assets titled in your name. This means, any joint property you might hold with a spouse or other family member cannot be included.
- Whether you wish to be cremated.
Contact Our Schuylkill County Estate Lawyer
While it is not necessary to use an attorney to draft a will, to avoid mistakes and to ensure your wishes are followed after your passing, it is highly recommended, to seek the advice of counsel, especially if you believe your will could be contested or if you wish to disinherit an heir from potential inheritance. When you work with a skilled Schuylkill County estate attorney, you can rest assured your family’s legacy is protected.
Contact The Law Offices of Anthony Urban, P.C. today.