Wills, Trusts and Estates
Studies have shown that most people die without a will. Losing a loved one is unquestionably difficult, but not having a will can create additional problems at an inopportune time. Without a will, the state, not you, will decide how your estate shall be distributed. Black and Davison's attorneys can help you and your family draft an appropriate estate plan to meet your needs. The lawyers of the firm can prepare wills, powers of attorney, and living wills, as well as more complicated estate planning.
Frequently asked questions about Trusts and Estates:
What if I die without a will?
State law provides a uniform scheme for the distribution of your estate if you die without a will. However, no considerations are made for the special needs of any individual or family. Your property, including money, real estate and personal possessions, will be distributed by a formula which is set by the state, which could result in unforeseen consequences. For example, without a will, your spouse may have to share assets with other family members for whom you do not wish to leave a bequest. Your minor children could be placed in the care of a guardian appointed by the court, not by you. This person may not necessarily be the person that you would have chosen to raise them. For these and other reasons, it is very important that you provide for the disposition of your property by leaving a valid will.
Can I write my own will?
Some individuals choose to draft their own will using standard kits or computer software programs rather than having an attorney draft one. These kits and software programs may, or may not, provide accurate advice for your state. Do-it-yourselfers must be cautioned that writing a will involves judgment and skills acquired only through professional training and experience. Standardized wills may not be drafted properly for Pennsylvania.
A will that is not skillfully drafted could result in your estate being distributed in a manner contrary to your wishes, and lead to unnecessary litigation or legal costs should challenges be raised by unhappy heirs.
Am I protected if I already have a will?
Usually, estate planning is not a one-time process, but rather is evolutionary, responding to the changes in your life. Your will should be updated as your life situation changes, such as an increase in the value of your assets, the birth or death of a beneficiary, a marriage or divorce, or a change in estate or tax laws.
In Pennsylvania, a will is not filed at the Courthouse ("probated") until after a person dies. Thus, you can change or update your will throughout your life as circumstances require. The attorneys at Black and Davison can help you review and revise your will to meet your changing needs.
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