Philadelphia Wills Attorney
Drafting Your Last Will & Testament in Pennsylvania
When people think of estate planning, they almost always immediately think of creating a will, which is a document that states your final wishes, including how you wish to have your assets passed on to your loved ones. When someone passes away, their will is read by a county court, who then ensure that your wishes are carried out appropriately, often with the help of a chosen fiduciary.
Your best wishes are extremely important both to you and your loved ones, and at Chestnut Hill Legal, we make them equally important to us as well. We offer qualified legal counsel and guidance when creating a last will and testament that will both stand up to possible scrutiny and prevent any disputes from arising that may make matters more complicated for your loved ones. Our wills attorney in Philadelphia is committed to your best interests and helping you obtain the peace of mind of knowing your future and the future of your loved ones is secure and protected by detailed and thorough legal documentation.
Why Create a Will?
One of the most common issues we run into when creating a will is that many people either don’t think one is necessary, or they don’t know what a will can and can't protect. Some people think a will is virtually useless as a tool, offering very little protection, while others think that their last will and testament is the single most powerful tool in estate planning. Neither of these sentiments is true: while a will shouldn’t be the only document in your estate plan, they’re also not something you should disregard.
What Is the Difference Between an Executor and Administrator of An Estate?
An executor (masculine) or executrix (feminine) is a dependable person who consents to look after a deceased person's property and makes sure it is allocated either according to the will, or under state law if there isn’t one. An administrator (male) or administratrix (female) is the individual chosen by the probate court to finish these duties when there is no will or no executor/ executrix has been named.
If you have been appointed the executor/executrix in a will you will have to:
Obtain the property and manage/protect it until it can be given to the person stated to inherit it in the will.
This may possibly take several months or maybe multiple years to finish.
All of the deceased individual’s money will be placed in a new account with all of the estate’s funds.
The executor/executrix will possibly have to sell the property, land, and/or stocks and convert them to cash to distribute to the beneficiaries in the will.
They will also have to file the will with the probate court, identify the beneficiaries, and the amount they will receive according to the will.
Being named the executor or administrator of a will is a great deal of work, but you are giving your loved one the peace of mind that their estate is in good hands. However, do not struggle to do it all alone. Our experienced trust and estate planning attorney is here to help you through the entire process. Give Chestnut Hill Law a call today for a consultation!
You Control Who Gets What
If you die without a will, the most basic component of an estate plan, you are said to die "intestate." When this occurs, the things you owned upon you death pass to others not in accordance with your wishes, but in accordance with Pennsylvania intestate law. Sometimes this is acceptable because those laws may align with your wishes, but for many, this is not ideal. For example, Pennsylvania law may dictate that a share of your estate go to a family member who you are not close with.
With a will, you control who gets what.
You Ease the Burden on Family
In addition, dying without a will makes the probate process more difficult for family members because, since there is no will, you have not named an executor of your estate. That is, you have not stated a preference for who should carry out the terms of the will and administer the estate during probate (the court process by which title to property in the decedent's estate changes to its new owner). A family member must petition the local register of wills for "letters of administration," which gives them the authority to administer the estate in accordance with Pennsylvania intestate law.
With a will, you ease the burden on your family.
You Could Save on Taxes
At the state level, Pennsylvania imposes an inheritance tax which increases depending on how closely or remotely you are related to the family member that is receiving property from your estate. There is no tax on property left to a surviving spouse, but Pennsylvania intestate law requires the estate be split among the surviving spouse and surviving parents or children. Thus, the share going to surviving parents or children would be subject to the inheritance tax. With a will, you could have specified that all your property goes to your surviving spouse, which would have passed inheritance tax-free.
With a will, you could save on taxes.
It’s extremely important that you create a will, even if you also plan on creating one or more trusts in order to further pass on your assets. The two often work well with each other, and creating a unique and detailed estate plan starts with a firm foundation in the form of a last will and testament.
Call Chestnut Hill Legal today at (610) 991-7986 for a free case evaluation! Our Philadelphia estate planning lawyer is committed to helping our clients build the plans that are right for them.