Why do I need a Will?
There are many reasons one might need a will. For starters, if you wish to choose how you’re property is distributed after death, a will is a near necessity. A will also assigns an executor, appoints a legal trustee and guardian for minor children, assures loved ones receives your assets and minimizes tax expenses. To avoid confusion of final wishes, especially if giving money to a person unrelated or to charity, a will makes sure your wishes are clearly stated and carried out
Why so much reluctance to make a Will?
People believe that they will have plenty of time to create their estate plan at a later date, but it is never too early to create a will. Some also believe that they do not have enough assets or that estate planning is costly. You might also assume your family will carry out your wishes, or that since you and your partner do not agree, a Will is not sufficient. Wills force us to think about death and preparation involves thought, but fully providing for loved ones provides greater peace of mind.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If you do not have a legal will, no considerations are made for the special needs of individuals or family. Your money and possessions will be distributed according to a formula fixed by law, which means your spouse may have to share assets with other family members not named in a Will. Dying without a Will could lead to minor children being placed in the care of a guardian appointed by the court, not necessarily the person(s) that you would have chosen. Finally, taxes and expenses are not alleviated by planning.
What if I change my mind about the contents about my Will?
In Pennsylvania, a Will is not filed (or probated) until after a person dies. As a result, you can change or update your Will throughout your life as circumstances require. The terms of a will are kept confidential until after you die.
Why you should not write your own Will?
Standardized kits or computer software programs that do your Will, often leave out important requirements specific to your state possibly making your Will invalid. Also, they do not address your personal circumstances and wishes. Writing a will involved judgment and skills acquired only through professional training and experience. Developing a Will requires knowledge of federal and state tax laws. A Will that is not skillfully drafted could result in your estate being distributed in a manner contrary to your wishes, and lead to unnecessary legal and probate costs and higher taxes.
Is it expensive to have a Will prepared?
There is no set price attached to the preparation of a Will. the fee to prepare a Will which addresses your specific needs will depend upon the complexity of your life situation and your intentions. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, where they are able to review your needs and to estimate the cost of your Will, based on the information you present. Most attorneys have a fixed initial starting price and based on the complexity of your estate the fee will go up.
When should your Will be updated?
There are many reasons to update your will. Such as: an increase in the value of your assets; the birth or death of a beneficiary; a marriage or divorce; a change in estate or tax laws ora change in your wishes for distribution of property, executor, trustee or guardian.
Is a Will the only document that I need?
A good estate plan also will include:
- Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney,
- Living Will (Advanced Health Care Directive), and
- Temporary Guardianship.
Powers of Attorney are a legal document(s) giving to one or two people (called the “agent”) the power to act of another person (the principal), to make legal decisions about the principal’s property, finance and healthcare. The power of attorney is frequently used in the event of a principal’s illness or disability, or when the principal can’t be present to sign necessary legal documents for financial reasons.
Having a power of attorney, ensures that someone will look after your financial affairs and make healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated. You can assign the same person for financial and healthcare powers of attorney or two different people.
Some of this information was furnished by The Pennsylvania Bar and the Delaware County Bar Association.