Creating a will is a crucial component of governing and managing one’s estate. The object of a will is to tell the courts who you want to administer your estate (the "executor") after your death, and to define who is to receive the assets of your (the “Testator”) estate. Your estate includes assets ranging from those with significant financial value, such as a summer vacation home, to those with substantial sentimental value, such as photographs or family heirlooms.

Your will indicates who will receive which assets; these individuals designated to receive property are beneficiaries. A will also serves to declare a guardian for any minors or dependents who survive you.

When someone with a significant estate (more than $150,000 gross value) passes away without a will, then the estate is subject to what's called intestate, or the process of using state laws to determine who inherits what from your estate.

An administrator is appointed by the courts and is subject to probate laws; the administrator may make certain decisions that your heirs don't agree with or that you might not have agreed with, so it's important to establish your Pennsylvania estate plan and will in advance.

Creating a Will Individually or with an Estate Planning Attorney

Although you don't need an attorney to prepare your will by law, using a form off the internet or through some other means of cut-rate preparation can often result in a messy probate period; poorly drafted wills often cause more problems than they solve.

Particularly if the gross value of your estate exceeds $150,000 it’s highly advisable that you retain the services of a Pennsylvania estate planning and probate attorney who can counsel you about the creation of a lawful and legally binding will that will minimize tax exposure and mitigate confusion about your intentions. Reach out to an estate planning attorney – 1-610-933-8069.

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David M. Frees, III
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Attorney, Speaker and Author