Do I Need A Will?


Estate planning is important to everyone. None of us really know how long we will live. At every stage of life, past the age of 18, your will you should be either created, if you don’t have one, or it should be reviewed with your attorney.

What is a Will?

Basically a will is a legally binding article in which you express your wishes upon your death. This may include assets, funeral wishes, or guardianship of minors among other things specific to your needs. Generally speaking most, most states have laws with regards to how your assets are divvied up among your heirs, should you expire not having a will. The state’s determination may be completely contradictory to your wishes, so you should consider creating a will.

Why do I need to make a will?

Essentially everyone should have a will except minors of course. Whenever you experience a life change, a marriage, divorce, birth, retirement for example, your will needs to be reviewed with your attorney. You may want to change the executor of a will, or create a living will or trust.

Those who truly need a will:

  • If you have minor children. You should write a will in order to appoint guardians for your minor children, and trustees to manage their property.
  • If you have no children. In some states, those who pass without a will, the state grants the living spouse mostly everything, but in some states the family, parents, and siblings also receive consideration.
  • If you have a large family. All of your heirs will become co-owners of every asset you own upon your death. With a will, you could leave specific assets to specific heirs, or put one heir in charge as trustee for the others. Either way, writing a will would save your heirs significant hassle and expense. For some families, having to follow a will is also a more peaceful process than the feud
    that can ensue.
  • If you own real estate. In the absence of a will, real estate is likely to be inherited by numerous co-owners. In which case, all the co-owners must all agree on the sale of the real estate, as well
    as they are responsible for any property taxes and the management of the property.

Family Law in Pennsylvania is not any less complicated than other states. There are specific laws that deal with those who pass without having a will. It’s important to talk with an attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out. The attorneys at Knight and Moskow can provide you with the guidance you need to construct a will, trust, power of attorney, a health proxy or any other type of family law need you are facing. Contact us and discuss your needs.

Why Is Creating A Will In Pennsylvania A Good Idea?

Perhaps the most compelling reason to make a Last Will and Testament in Pennsylvania is that you are ensured your exact wishes being carried out upon your death. The execution of a Will is especially necessary for individuals with minor children or disabled dependants, those with specific burial wishes, and individuals with specific estate administration requirements.

If you choose not to execute a will, Pennsylvania has a system of laws for an intestate estate that will provide the framework for distribution. (20 Pa. C.S. §2102, 2103) This distribution may be contrary to your wishes, but without a Pennsylvania will, this is the framework that will be used:

Married, no surviving children or parents Spouse receives the entire estate
Married, no surviving children but one or more surviving parents Spouse receives first $30,000.00 plus one half of the estate
Married, surviving children of the decedent and spouse Spouse receives first $30,000.00 plus one half of the estate
Married, surviving children of the decedent only Spouse receives one half of the estate
Single, with children Children receive the entire estate
Single, no surviving children but one or more surviving parents Parent(s) receive the entire estate
Single, no surviving children or parents but one or more surviving siblings Siblings(s) receive the entire estate
Single, no surviving children or parents or siblings but one or more surviving grandparents Grandparent(s) or their descendants receive the entire estate, one-half to each side of the family
Single, no surviving children or parents or siblings or surviving grandparents or grandparent’s descendants Grandparent(s)’s siblings receive the entire estate and their descendants

If the estate does not meet any of the above criteria, the estate will pass to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Often we associate wills with assets and the division of property or inheritance. While these things are important, executing an estate plan is even more important for individuals with minor children and disabled dependants. Through the execution of a will, trusts can be established to provide financial stability for your loved ones, and a guardian can be nominated to provide the kind of care you desire for those dependants left behind. Making these desires known through your last will and testament is perhaps the most important thing you will leave for your dependants.

Navigating through the estate planning process doesn’t have to be a daunting process. With careful guidance from the attorneys at Knight & Moskow, P.C., family lawyers located in Media, Pennsylvania, an effective estate plan can be established, and all contingencies will be discussed and addressed. This plan could include any, or all, of the following:

• revocable or irrevocable trust
• real estate trusts
• living wills/advanced directives for health care decisions
• durable powers of attorney for financial affairs
• durable powers of attorney for medical affairs
• pet trusts

Depending on your individual requirements and desires, a very specific estate plan can be established for you. It is important to plan as much as possible for the unexpected, however difficult the contemplation of such events may be. A well-prepared estate planning will serve to put ease your mind, and those of your loved ones.

To discuss your family law needs in Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County or Montgomery County, call our office at (610) 565-8210, or contact us via email at to schedule a consultation.