Last Will & Testaments

A common misconception in the general public is that you don't need a Will until you are old. Quite the contrary. You should have a Will if:

1) You own any property in your name alone (for example, a checking account or a car.)

2) You have minor children.

3) You have personal property or family heirlooms that you want a specific person to receive at the time of your death.

4) You are married and own property together.

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A Will appoints a person (the "Personal Representative") to handle the estate matters (the paperwork) involved in settling your estate. Any asset you own jointly with another person automatically becomes the other person's property at your death and does not pass through your estate and is not taxable.

If you have minor children, you will need to appoint a person to be the guardian of those children once you are gone. Most likely your first choice will be the other parent, should that parent still be living, but you will also need to choose another party in the event that the first choice is unable to fulfill that position. Think carefully! This will be the person or persons raising your children!

If you have substantial assets or life insurance, you may want to consider creating a trust for the benefit of your children and appoint a Trustee to control those funds until the child has reached an age that you determine he or she should then gain control of those funds for him or herself. The Trustee DOES NOT have to be the Guardian (but often is).

Trusts can also be established for spouses.

If you have a Life Insurance policy, it is a good idea to have the beneficiary be "your estate" if your intention is that the proceeds from the policy are meant to pay for your funeral and final expenses. There is nothing requiring the beneficiary of the policy to use those funds to pay your final expenses! Any policy with an individual named as the beneficiary would automatically become the property of the beneficiary and will not pass through your estate. You may have multiple policies with various beneficiaries for just that reason.

It is not a particularly good idea to place your original Will in your safe deposit box, unless your Personal Representative (the person to handle the paperwork) is also an owner on the box. If this is the case, then someone must be appointed by the Orphans' Court as your Personal Representative in order to gain access to the box. It is a better idea to file your Will with the Register of Wills in the County where you reside, or to keep the document in a fire/flood proof container at your residence. Your attorney may also keep the document on file for you in a safe at their office. You should always keep a photocopy of the Will with your important papers indicating where the original can be found.

Click here for a Last Will and Testament
You will need Adobe Acrobat to view and print the worksheet.

which you can print to guide you in gathering all the information
that your attorney will need to prepare your Will. Take this form with you to your appointment.

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