Yes. A will is a legal document that gives you control over your assets. Proper estate planning allows you to provide for yourself and your family by creating a valid will, trust, power of attorney, a living will, and more. A will helps to ensure that your heirs know how you want your assets divided. Without a will, the government gets to decide where your money goes instead of you. Because approximately 70% of Americans die intestate, that is without a will or some form of legal instrument transferring their estate assets, the government probate courts are overwhelmed, make mistakes, and do not individually care about your family. Further, if you attempt to write your own will it may not be legally binding. If that happens, your heirs may fight over your assets and enter long, drawn out court battles. There are certain ways that a will must be constructed. A will lawyer can help you write a will that can ensure that your assets will be distributed the way you desire. It is always a good idea to have the keystone of your estate, a valid last will and testament, drawn up by a lawyer.
Ten Reasons You Probably Need a Will Lawyer
Reason 1: Children or lack thereof.
Do you have minor children?
If so then your lawyer will most certainly say you need a will. Without a will, the government decides who will take care of your children. If you hire a will lawyer, they can help you draft a will that specifically names who you want to look after your children in the event of your death. This person will be called your child’s legal guardian, and can make the decisions that your child is too young to make. A will can grant or take away some specific powers of a legal guardian. A will can also make sure your children are provided for with your assets, so that your children do not have to rely on charity for survival.
Do you have multiple children?
Do you have multiple children? It is best to explain to your children how you will be dividing your assets after you pass away. In addition to a conversation with your children, you need a will that directs how the assets should be split. Do you have a child that you wish to disinherit? You cannot do so without a will. If you hire a will lawyer to assist you, the will lawyer can make sure that your will expressly states that you want your child to not receive anything. A will lawyer can help you make sure that your child does not bring litigation against your other heirs in order to try to get some money from your estate.
Do you have no children?
If you do not have a will, and have no children, your money could end up going to complete strangers. Based on the Pennsylvania laws that control where assets go someone dies without a will, your money could end up going to distant relatives you’ve never met. It could even end up going in to the government’s coffers. If you would rather have your money going to friends, charities, or whomever you decide, instead of the government, you need to hire a will lawyer to help you with your will.
Are you remarried with adult children?
It is important to consider whether you want your spouse or your children to receive the majority of your estate. Some people chose to leave their house to their spouse, but the rest of their assets to their children. Other decide to leave everything to their spouse. There are also people whose spouses are financially secure and do not want a portion of the estate. Without a will, it is impossible to know how you would like your assets divided.
Do you have a child with special needs?
If so, you should hire a will lawyer to help you draft your will to make sure your child is cared for for the rest of their life. A will lawyer can help you plan out how to ensure that you have sufficient assets to cover your child’s expenses. In a will, you can express how you want your assets used to care for your child.
Reason 2: Unintended beneficiaries.
Two modern trends have given rise to an large increase in the number of contested estates. The first trend is the divorce rate being at an all time high. Children from different relationships, remarriage, old wills naming the former spouse, and all sorts of confusion complicates modern wills. When a person dies, people come out of the woodwork to claim even the smallest bit of the estate.
Reason 3: Assets have become more complicated.
The second trend is that assets have more complicated titling – years ago there was often just a home. Now, there are financial instruments, life insurance policies, and several other assets that need to be taken into consideration when preparing a Will.
Reason 4: Leaving money to charities after your death in your name.
A will is the easiest way to ensure that your favorite charity can receive a portion of your assets. A will lawyer can draft a will that explicitly lays out what charity you would like your assets to go to and how you would like the charity to spend your money.
Reason 5: Separated from your spouse, but not divorced.
Without a will, the majority of your estate could go to your former spouse. Although a will cannot stop your former spouse from receiving anything, it can greatly reduce the portion of your estate that they would be able to take.
Reason 6: Unsophisticated spouse or partner.
You can use a will to assist your spouse in the case of your death. Your will can direct that you would like your spouse to hire a financial planner to assist them with managing your money. A will lawyer can help you chose a financial planner.
Reason 7: Pennsylvania’s death taxes.
If your primary residence is Pennsylvania, the answer is most likely yes. Unlike the federal estate tax, there is no minimum level of assets required before Pennsylvania inheritance tax becomes payable. A will lawyer can help you figure out how to give the least amount of your money to the state and federal government.
Reason 8: The old will from years ago.
If your will provides for a legal guardian for your children, and your children are now in their twenties, it may be time to update your will. If someone you were going to leave money to has died or you have fallen out of touch, you may want to update your will. Perhaps you would like to name one of your children as executor, or add a charity that you have grown especially fond of over the years. You should be reviewing your will every few years to make sure that you still want your assets distributed the way you did before. If you review your will and discover you want to change something, call the will lawyers at Kraemer, Manes & Associates to assist you.
Reason 9: Estate inventory for ease to your family.
A will should account for the following:
- Names, addresses, and birth dates for you, your spouse, your children, proposed guardians, and executor of your estate.
- Amounts of all debts, including mortgages, car loans, student loans, business loans, and credit card accounts.
- Copies of existing wills, trusts, divorce decrees, prenuptial agreements and any other legal documents that might affect a will.
- Internet passwords and accounts.
- Items to destroy.
- A list of assets and debts, including detailed information about the following:
- Real estate
- Savings (bank accounts, CDs, money markets)
- Investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs)
- Life insurance policies
- 401(k), IRA, pension/retirement accounts
- Life insurance policies and annuities
- Ownership interest in a business
- Cars, boats, planes and other vehicles
- Other personal property
Reason 10: End of life arrangements.
It will make you and your family more comfortable to know your exact wishes upon your death. This goes from the burial location, to the tombstone, to the public announcement. There are many things that a grieving family member will have to decide. It every single case, that role has been made considerably easier with a detailed will. Don’t let your passing be the source of a additional difficulty for those you love.
At Kraemer, Manes & Associates, our will lawyers will help you make this difficult process easier.
Last Will & Testament
Estate plans kept private
Select who inherits
Select care for minor children or pets
Digital life protection
Avoids family disputes
End-of life issues
Protects financial abuse
Life support / artificial nourishment
Power Of Attorney
Prevents costly delays
Prevents questions about intent
Protects financial abuse
Allows agent to talk to other agencies
Allows agent to perform transactions
Special/springing power of attorney
Avoids medical planning
Golden Estate Package
Continuity of documents
Peace of mind
Fewer document updates required
Best available protection