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Questions About Wills And Estates In Pennsylvania

Q: Why is it a good idea to have a will?

A: Having a will allows you to exercise control over where your assets go when you pass. If you do not have a will, your property will pass under intestacy laws. Property that passes by intestacy may very well not be as you would have chosen.

Q: What is the difference between a will and living will?

A: A will directs where your property will go when you die. A living will indicates your instructions regarding medical care in the event you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. And a health care proxy designates someone to decide for you, based on your guidelines or instructions, if you become incapacitated.

Q: Does someone who is young and healthy need a will?

A: Even someone who is young and single should have a will. After all, serious accidents and illnesses can happen even to young, healthy people. Having a will allows you to put a plan in place so that you don’t burden others unnecessarily.

Q: What does it take to make a valid will in Pennsylvania?

A. As in other states, it is necessary for the person who makes a will to be of sound mind. This means that if someone’s mental faculties are slipping due to dementia or other issues, it is especially important to get a will in place while the person in question has the capacity to do so.

Q: What is a “holographic will?”

A: Under Pennsylvania law, a writing that gives specific instructions about property division and is signed at the end by the testator is valid under certain circumstances. But the signature must be at the end; it cannot be elsewhere in the document.

Q: When do I need to change my will?

A: Whenever a life event occurs, it is important to update your will. This includes marriage, divorce, the birth of a child and the death of a beneficiary.

Q: Will I be affected by inheritance tax?

A: The federal exemption for estate and gift tax is now over $5 million. But at the state level in Pennsylvania, inheritance tax returns are generally required for everyone but a surviving spouse.

Q: What role do executors or administrators play?

A: See the discussion on our page on fiduciaries.

Get The Trusted Advice You Need

At The Swain Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience helping people put their estate planning and administration houses in order. Call us at 215-550-1968 to set up a confidential consultation or simply fill out our online form. Our lawyers serve clients in Bucks County, in northeast Philadelphia and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.