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Does Everyone Need a Will?

13 Nov 2023, by Madison Foltz in Estate Planning
Young couple sitting at a table reviewing estate planning documents

Written by Timothy Czekaj

Several misconceptions surround wills and estate planning, leading many to believe incorrectly that they do not need one. For instance, you might initially think you don’t need to draw up a will because you don’t have considerable assets, are not married, or do not have children. But you’d be wrong.

You might be surprised to learn that no matter when you start planning, a will can do a lot more than distribute what you leave behind to family and friends. It can also determine who takes custody of your children, who can make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated, and other aspects of end-of-life planning.

What Does a Will Do?

A will’s primary purpose is to distribute your assets after you pass. But it also ensures your final wishes are carried out. This allows you to take control of other important aspects of your passing, such as custody of your children and whom you trust to make decisions for you.

Why Should You Have a Will?

People often think they don’t need a will if they have limited assets or a small family. Regardless of how much you have, your family will be grieving when you pass.

The last thing they need to do is worry about how your assets should be split up. Putting it down in writing takes one more worry off their shoulders and lets them focus on the healing process. Additionally, a will allows you to customize the distribution of your assets.

Your Estate is Not Too Small

Having a small estate does not mean you can pass on writing a will. No matter how much you have, it’s part of the legacy you’ll leave behind. The less guidance you leave your loved ones, the more time and money they must spend taking your estate through the courts.

When you plan for your small estate ahead of time, you ensure that as much of it as possible goes to your loved ones.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?

Pennsylvania laws of intestate succession will determine how your assets are divided. If you die with children but no spouse, your children will inherit everything. If the opposite is true, your spouse inherits everything. If you have both a spouse and children with that spouse, your spouse gets the first $30,000 plus half of what remains. Your children receive the rest.

The division of assets gets more complicated if you have children with someone other than your spouse or if you have a spouse and living parents but no children. This can get complex quickly and leave your spouse in a bad position. They could be left scrambling if they planned on living off your estate but then have to give half of it to your parents

What Does a Will Cover?

Your will covers most assets, like cash on hand, real estate, valuable items, and personal property. However, some assets are not part of your will. Retirement funds, real estate co-owned with a spouse, and joint bank accounts do not have to be accounted for in your will.

Is it Easy to Make a Will?

Creating a will is easy with the help of an estate planning attorney. Your lawyer knows the estate planning laws for your state so that you can avoid common errors and account for assets or issues you may not have considered. The hardest part of making a will is getting started — accounting for all your assets, their value, and how you want them to be part of your legacy after you pass.

After you’ve created your initial will, it’s just a matter of maintaining it. You should also revisit it when there are new family members to consider, when family members pass away or become estranged, or when you gain new assets. Reviewing and revising your will is much easier than writing it from the ground up.

Get Started on Your Will Today

When it comes time to plan for the inevitable, contact Czekaj Law, LLC. If you are ready to draft a will or need help handling your loved one’s estate after a family member’s death, Czekaj Law is there to help. Our estate planning lawyers can help you navigate the estate administration and planning processes. Call us at 717-275-9770 or fill out our quick contact form to get started today.

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