True story. A group of residents in an over 55 community decide to go out for a night of coffee. Seemingly out of nowhere, the conversation turns to one about wills. Of the five gathered together, only one admits she has an estate plan in place. The others don’t see the necessity. As far as they are concerned, they still have time.
What exactly are they waiting for? While the end of life is certainly unpredictable, there is no time like the present to get affairs in order. One lady shares that her best friend assured her she can find forms on the internet that should put her at ease. Another plans to handwrite her will. As she understands it, this constitutes a holographic will.
Procrastination aside, there are basic requirements when it comes to a will in Pennsylvania. In the meantime, an experienced estate planning attorney can provide advice concerning other documents that should be part of the process.
What is a Holographic Will?
Truth be told, only about half of the states in the country recognize holographic wills. While Pennsylvania happens to be one of them, there are certain conditions that must be met.
The person who writes a will is known as a testator. When he or she decides to author a holographic will, it is critical that the document is entirely handwritten by the testator. This is not the time to opt for a fill in the blank form – as it will contain typed text.
However, there’s something else that’s important to know. Under Pennsylvania law, all wills must be signed. Witnesses may be necessary if the testator needs to make a mark in place of a signature or requires someone else to sign in his or her stead.
Notwithstanding, there can be issues regarding the execution of a holographic will without the benefit of legal advice. The most obvious include inadvertent errors or ambiguous language. Unfortunately, some testators fail to name contingent beneficiaries and totally make allowances for the disposition of their estate.
In some circumstances, there may be concerns about fraud or allegations that the testator was unduly influenced. Of course, both of these issues may arise whenever a will is presented to probate.
Boiler Plate Forms
Google is not a replacement for experienced legal counsel. Surely, you can do an internet search and find a boilerplate legal form. However, online forms are general and not state specific. More than likely, your intention is to make sure your estate is divided according to your wishes.
That said, not everyone’s set of circumstances follows the “norm.” For example, what if you have a surviving spouse and children from a prior marriage? Are you confident that an online will can properly appropriate estate in the manner you intend?
Other Estate Planning Tools
A will is not the only document you need to consider when it comes to estate planning tools. Have you executed a Living Will? What about a Power of Attorney? Both documents are relevant when you are still alive and unable to take care of things on your own.
You might be surprised – a great number of disputes regarding estate planning – are a matter of words. Make time for yourself and your beneficiaries. Procrastination should be out of the question when it comes to preparing for the future.
Contact Fellerman & Ciarimboli with your estate planning needs. Put your mind at ease as far as protecting you and your loved ones.