According to Forbes almost 50% of people over the age of 55 do not have a will. Further, only 18% of people over 55 years of age have all the estate planning essentials, including a will, durable power of attorney, and health care directive.
Keep reading to learn the importance of a will, whether you can make a will on your own, and why using an attorney is recommended.
How to Make a Will
Prior to preparing your will, you need to make the following decisions:
- List your assets including home, automobiles, and retirement savings
- Decide who the beneficiaries are and what portion of your estate you wish them to inherit
- Do you have minor children for whom you need to designate a guardian if you die before they reach adulthood
- If you become incapacitated do you have a medical directive and a designated person to make medical decisions for you
Once you have answers to the above you are ready to prepare the will
Why You Should Use an Attorney
There are do-it-yourself online forms for preparing a will. These forms lack the personalization of a will you have an attorney prepare.
To be valid a will must meet the legal requirements of your state. Self-prepared wills are more likely to be contested in court. For these reasons writing your own will is not recommended.
Online forms will also not provide the confidence of knowing you have all legal documents needed for every aspect of your estate. This includes medical directives, power of attorney, or trust. An experienced estate attorney will know the law and assist you in every step of the planning process.
What If I Die Without a Will?
If you die intestate (without a will) the court will make the final determination on where your assets go based on Pennsylvania law. This may not coincide with your wishes.
The intestate succession in Pennsylvania only provides a surviving spouse with the entire estate the person who died has no surviving children or parents.
If the decent has children or parents those persons will receive the first $30,000 plus ½ of the balance of the intestate estate. If the decedent has children that are not the issue of the surviving spouse those children receive ½ of the intestate estate.
The law further states that the portion of the estate the surviving spouse does not receive, or if there is no surviving spouse, be disbursed in the following order:
- The issue of the decedent
- Parents of the decedent
- Brothers or sisters of the decedent or their issue
- Grandparents of the decedent
- Uncles, aunts of the decedent and their children and grandchildren
- If there are none of the above persons to inherit, then the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall receive the estate
Don’t Lose Your Estate
You work hard for your assets and you don’t want your loved ones to lose your estate because you lack a will. The right time to make a will is now.
The law offices of Monastra & Grater, LLC have the experience to lead you through the estate planning process best for you and your family, whether it is a simple will, trust, medical directives, or power of attorney. Contact us now at (484) 644-3830 to schedule a telephone consultation.