Protecting Your Estate with a Will in Pennsylvania
Black and Davison
Regardless of the size of your estate, you want to make certain your property passes with minimal stress to your loved ones and in accordance with your wishes. One of the best ways to do that is by drafting and executing a “last will and testament.”
Uses of a Last Will and Testament
A valid will can be used to accomplish a number of objectives, including:
- The orderly distribution of your assets, as well as payment of all final obligations
- The designation of a person to act as guardian of your minor children
- The designation of a person to manage any assets or property that you leave to minor children
- The creation and funding of a trust to benefit loved ones
- Charitable giving
Though you are not legally required to retain an attorney to prepare and execute a will, it’s money well-spent to do so. An attorney can help you take the right steps to minimize the risk of misunderstandings by beneficiaries—your heirs will be thankful if you use a lawyer to ensure clarity in the distribution of your property.
Pennsylvania does not require that a will be notarized, but does mandate that the will be signed in front of at least two witnesses, and that the witnesses sign the document as well. It’s often easier, though, if you have the will notarized, because then it will be considered to be “self-proving.” If a will is not “self-proving,” there are additional steps that you must take during the probate process to demonstrate the legitimacy of the will.
Other requirements for a valid will in Pennsylvania include:
- The person executing the will must be at least 18 years old
- The person executing the will must be of sound mind
- The will must be in writing