Pennsylvania Wills Attorneys
Helping You Plan for the Future of Your Estate
Life can change in an instant. One day you’re here, but the next day you could be gone. But what’s worse is not knowing what the future holds for your family and loved ones when you’re gone. Unfortunately, many people do not plan for the future. This can leave your loved ones facing a number of uncertainties and challenges in the event of your passing. The sooner you plan ahead by creating a well-rounded and comprehensive estate plan, the less stress you will have worrying about the “what-ifs.”
One of the most basic and effective ways to protect your loved ones and the future of your estate is to draft a will. While this is a fairly straightforward document, it is incredibly invaluable to have the assistance of an experienced estate planning lawyer when drafting or modifying your will.
Since 2000, our Pennsylvania wills lawyers have helped clients across the state create solid estate plans. We understand that this can be a confusing and, at times, difficult process to navigate. That’s why we will take the time to walk you through the process and make sure the future is not a concern.
What Is a Will?
When planning for the future of one’s estate, a will is used to express the estate owner’s wishes as to how their property is to be distributed upon their death. A will is also responsible for naming the party who will manage the estate until its final distribution, otherwise known as an executor.
Having and executing a will is potentially the most crucial step in the estate planning process in Pennsylvania. If someone does not have a will when they pass away, the state will distribute your property. This is also true if a court finds your will invalid.
Types of Wills in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there are several types of wills that can be prepared. Which type of will you choose is determined by your unique circumstances and goals.
The different types of wills in Pennsylvania are as follows:
- Simple Will: This type of will contains no trust provisions and leaves the deceased’s belongings to one or more people. It is typically used when the estate left behind is small enough that there are no tax considerations and the deceased has no children or has children that are already of age and, therefore, the protection of a trust is not needed.
- Will with a Trust for Children: This type of will contains provisions for your children and/or someone with a disability who needs the protection of a trust. It will be used when there are children and the estate left is small enough that there are no tax considerations, as in the case of a simple will outlined above.
- Will with a Disclaimer Trust: This type of will contains trust provisions that are optional. In most cases, this type of will awards gifts outright instead of via a trust. However, there are provisions that go into effect if the beneficiary refuses to accept a gift under the will.
- Will with a Marital Gift and Non-Marital Trust: This is a will with some type of trust that preserves a couple’s credit amount in the estate of the first spouse to die, along with another trust that allows another part of the estate to pass to the surviving spouse free of federal estate tax.
- Will with a QTIP and Non-Marital Trusts: This is a will with a trust in which the unified credit amount intact in the estate of the first spouse to die and with a Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) trust that permits the income from another part estate to be used by the surviving spouse and then passed down to others free of federal estate tax.
- Pour-Over Will: This type of will serves as a safety net to any belongings that aren’t included in a living trust. The assets will automatically transfer to a previously established trust upon a person’s death.
- Will with a Qualifying Domestic Trust (QDOT): A will with a Qualifying Domestic Trust (QDOT) contains a trust that permits the deferral of federal estate tax until the death of the surviving spouse where the surviving spouse isn’t a U.S. citizen.
The Importance of Having a Will
You might think having a will isn’t a big deal, but in reality it is. Regardless of how much money you have or how many possessions you own, a will is an essential part of the estate planning process. It will ensure that your assets will go to your family or whoever is designated as a beneficiary. Without a will, the state will distribute your property according to intestacy laws.
Intestacy laws are inheritance guidelines that distribute the deceased's assets throughout the family, starting with the closest living family member. This is why you will want to create your own will—to ensure that your property is left to individuals of your choosing.
Additionally, if you own a business, a will can ensure the legal transaction of your assets and shares goes smoothly. And, if your children are still considered minors, a will is necessary to ensure who their legal guardians will be going forward, especially in the event that both parents die.
How to Amend a Will in Pennsylvania
Wills can be amended in a process known as a codicil.
A will can also be revoked through certain actions, such as:
- Creating a newly drafted and validated will
- Providing other written documents signed and proved in the same manner in which a will is deemed valid
- Through the act of burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, or destroying the will with the purpose of revocation
Grounds to Contest a Will
When a loved one passes and their will has been changed, you may suspect wrongdoing and wish to contest the will.
There are various grounds in which a will may be contested, including but not limited to:
- Lack of testamentary capacity
- Undue influence
- Insane delusion
If you believe a loved one’s will was created under terms which were not representative of their wishes, you need legal assistance from a trusted estate planning law firm.
Our Pennsylvania Will Attorneys Can Help You
The time to plan for the future is now. That is why the Pennsylvania wills attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli Law PC are here to help you plan ahead. We will work tirelessly to make this process as simple as possible by working with financial advisors and experts to make sure your finances are taken care of.