About two-thirds of Americans either don’t have Wills or haven’t updated it for years. Wills are extremely important to have in place and kept up-to-date, especially if you have loved ones. While many of us don’t want to think of that unfortunate time, it is better to be prepared.
Without A Will in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a law in place that if you pass away without a Will your inheritance will go to your loved ones. The basics are as follows: if you have a spouse but no children – everything will go to your spouse, unless your parents are alive and then it will be split between them, with your spouse receiving the first $30,000.00 plus one half of the balance of your estate. If you have children, it will be divided up among your spouse and children, the actual division being dependent on whether or not the children are also the children of your surviving spouse. If you don’t have a living spouse, but do have surviving children, they will receive the entire estate. If you have neither a surviving spouse or surviving children, the intestate code continues with provision for your extended family you may have, unless there is none and then it will go to the Commonwealth of PA.
Now while this law does ensure that your inheritance will go to your family, the way it is set up may not be how you would want your property to pass. That is where Wills come into play! Below are some benefits of having a will:
- Express where you would like your inheritance to go. With a Will you can be specific about who receives what when it comes to your estate.
- Name a guardian for young children. If you have children under 18, you want to make sure they are well cared for should the unfortunate happen. Within your Will you can be specific about who you would like the guardian of your children to be.
- Name a custodian to manage any property passing to children you have who are under the age of 21. Your custodian needs to be someone you trust implicitly to manage property going to your children, this does not need to be the same person as your guardian of the children.
- Name an executor. After you pass away, it is important to have someone in place to make sure everything is wrapped up with your estate. The most ideal individual for this is someone in your family or a close friend you trust to complete the items that need to be completed.
So you have a Will in place?
Even after you have a Will in place, it is still important to make sure you keep it updated and check through it every couple of years. It is important to confirm that the executor, custodian and guardian are still available and that you still trust them completely. You should review your Will to ensure that your property distribution is still in line with your wishes and that none of your beneficiaries have passed away or fallen out of favor. You should make sure you have provided for all of the individuals you intended to and that new children or grandchildren have not been inadvertently overlooked. Finally, you need to make sure that any specific bequest you made are still relevant.
Sher & Associates, P.C. is a law firm located in Kutztown that can assist you in any of the following areas: business law, real estate law, and estate planning. We assist many individuals, businesses and families in and around Fleetwood, Blandon, Topton, Hamburg and Oley.