The Role Of A Will In Estate Planning
The will is the most basic and important part of estate planning. There are many people who believe they do not need wills, either because they use other forms of estate planning or because they believe they will not leave enough to require one.
But the reality is that everyone needs a will. Let our lawyers at Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, L.L.C., help you protect your family. Contact us today about making certain you have the right will for your needs.
Why You Need A Will
Even if you do not have a large number of assets to pass on to your family members, it is likely that you still have some. Without a will, your assets will pass through intestacy. This means that instead of you deciding where your possessions go, the government will do so.
In addition, your family may be required to put your estate into probate, regardless of whether they would otherwise have needed to do so.
If you have a simple estate and can, through the use of a will, avoid probate, you may save your family a substantial amount of money. Even if your will does need to go through probate, creating one can help you minimize financial liabilities and avoid family arguments.
In addition, a will can address unexpected issues such as: What happens to your pets, who manages your social media accounts and who gets certain unique items that are special to them. Wills make it easier for your family in a time of grief to make certain that they know your wishes and are able to obey them.
The Consequences Of Dying Without A Will
If you die without a will, all of your assets pass under the Pennsylvania Laws of Intestate Succession. Intestacy laws determine the order and amount in which your family members will take your assets when you pass away.
- Spouse, no parents or children: Your spouse inherits everything.
- Spouse, parents, no children: Your spouse will be entitled to the first $30,000 of your estate plus one half of any amount remaining. Your parents will receive one half of the remaining estate.
- Children with your spouse: If you have children who are also the children of your spouse, your spouse receives the first $30,000 of your estate and one half of the remaining amount. Your children receive the other half.
- Children not with your spouse: If you have children who were not the legal children of your spouse, then the surviving spouse receives one half of the estate and the children inherit everything else. The spouse loses the initial $30,000 in that case. The law takes away the extra $30,000 because there is a legal assumption that your spouse may not care for children who were not theirs. It does not matter how close a relationship your children have with your spouse.
- Parents, no children or spouse: The parents inherit everything.
- Siblings only: If you have siblings but no spouse, children or parents, your siblings inherit everything.
If you die without a will, it means you give up control over how your assets and properties are distributed after you die.
Issues Created By Dying Without A Will
As you can see, if you are married and expecting your spouse to get everything, but you predecease your parents, your spouse will be in for a nasty surprise when she/he receives only a portion of your estate.
Also, keep in mind, in all of these scenarios, if you have a romantic partner who you would like to inherit your assets, but you do not have a will and that person is not your legal spouse, that person will not inherit anything.
Nor will your friends inherit any special items you might desire to leave for them, without a proper will. The key thing to remember is that if you do not have a will, you lose control over where your assets go.
Designating A Guardian For Minor Children
As a parent, it is crucial that you protect your children should you be unable to make decisions for them. The appropriate documents allow you to appoint others who can make emergency decisions for your children, should you die or become incapacitated.
If you are married, and both you and your spouse are injured in a car accident and unable to make decisions, such a document could make all the difference to the well-being of your children.
Wills Are An Indispensable Part Of Every Estate Plan
If you have an estate plan but that plan does not include a will, you should get a will as soon as possible. The reason for this is that a will can catch any items you may not have addressed in your estate plan. For example, if you have a number of antiques that you would like specific people to have, you can address those specific bequests in your will.
Also, if you obtain any new possessions that are not otherwise addressed in your estate plan, a will can be written in such a way that it will address any future acquired possessions. This way, if you pass away unexpectedly, everything will still be covered.
Contact Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, L.L.C., For Help Creating A Will
Whether your estate is small and straightforward or large and complex, our attorneys at Hoffmeyer & Semmelman have the experience to address your needs.