Free Pennsylvania Last Will and Testament



What is a Last Will and Testament?

A Pennsylvania Last Will and Testament is a formal instrument that describes how your assets or estate will be dealt with after you pass away. The person who passes away is formally called the decedent. The testator can also nominate a guardian for their minors in the document to ensure there's someone who can look after the children until they grow to be adults or until they get to a particular age.

A Pennsylvania last will and testament is meant to outline how an individual's assets and property will be distributed after death. This type of will is typically used by individuals who want to ensure that their loved ones are taken care of financially after they pass away.

Some key things to include in a Pennsylvania last will and testament are:

  • The name and contact information of the executor (the person who will be responsible for carrying out the terms of the will)
  • A list of all assets and property, including real estate, personal belongings, bank accounts, and investments
  • Specific instructions for how each asset should be distributed
  • The names and contact information of any beneficiaries (the people who will inherit the assets)
  • Any funeral or burial instructions

It's essential to have a Pennsylvania last will and testament in place to avoid any confusion or conflict after your death. Without a will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed, which may not be in line with your wishes.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in Pennsylvania

A last will in Pennsylvania protects the wishes of the deceased concerning the inheritance of their property. In the paper, a person indicates what and to whom they would like to bequeath after death. Both relatives and charities can be heirs. A person does not have to make a will if they agree to distribute their property under Pennsylvania laws. However, if the owner of the estate wants to clarify some points, they write a testament.

Purposes of a Testament in Pennsylvania

In the absence of a last will, the property of the deceased goes to their relatives in the order of the degree of kinship. The first applicant is their spouse, followed by descendants and parents. If none of these family members are living, the other relatives inherit the deceased’s property. The rules of inheritance are determined by the court under the laws of Pennsylvania. This order can be changed by writing a testament.

A testator describes in detail the parts of the inheritance to be allocated and indicates the person(s) who owns them after their death. The main content of the document is summarized in these points:

  • Specifying the last will executor

  • Description of the testator’s movable and immovable property

  • Appointment of the person(s) who will own the right to part(s) of this estate

  • Establishing the guardian of the testator’s minor children

  • Providing care for elderly relatives

  • Donations to a charitable foundation.

Of course, a testator mentions those points that are relevant to them. A last will allows the court to clearly understand the will of the deceased and appoint heirs according to their wishes. Making a testament allows a person to avoid dividing the inheritance per the general Pennsylvania law and to specify their requirements.

Exceptions to a Testament

Through a last will, a person can distribute a significant part of their property, but not all of it. Pennsylvania law defines the parts of the inheritance that are distributed regardless of the testator’s wishes.

It concerns the share of the deceased’s spouse, who inherits a third of the entire estate. The law implies the transfer to the living spouse of the deceased’s property transferred by a last will or during the life of the deceased. Since some cases are controversial, the court decides what kind of property the deceased’s spouse receives.

Form and Editing of a Last Will

Pennsylvania courts accept both printed and handwritten wills. Please note that in any case, the document must be written in an official form and include all the points, such as a description of the property and the indication of the heirs, as well as the signatures of the testator and witnesses.

If a testator decides to change the document content, they can submit amendments to the will to the state office. The clerk must necessarily certify these changes. Otherwise, they are invalid. A person can also revoke a last will. They need to create another testament indicating that the previous will is no longer valid or destroy the document in the presence of other persons.

Last Will Forms for Neighboring States

Steps to Creating a Last Will and Testament in Pennsylvania

If you're ready to create a Pennsylvania last will and testament, there are a few things you need to do. 

First, you'll need to find a lawyer specializing in wills and estate planning. This lawyer will be able to help you understand the state's laws and make sure that your will is legal and binding.

Once you've found a lawyer, you'll need to gather all of the necessary paperwork. This will include a list of your assets and debts, as well as any instructions you have for how you want your assets to be distributed. You'll also need to choose an executor and beneficiaries and make sure they're aware of their roles.

It's important to keep your Pennsylvania last will and testament in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe or bank deposit box. You should also give copies to your executor, beneficiaries, and lawyer.

Creating a Pennsylvania last will and testament may seem daunting, but it's an important step in protecting your loved ones after death. With the help of a lawyer, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are taken care of financially.

When Do You Need a Last Will and Testament?

Most people think they only need a will if they have a lot of money or property to leave behind. But the truth is, everyone can benefit from having a will. If you die without a will, the state will decide how your assets are distributed – which may not align with your wishes.

Creating a Pennsylvania last will and testament allows you to decide exactly how your assets will be divided after your death. This is especially important if you have young children, as you can use your will to appoint a guardian for them.

A will can also be used to set up trusts, which can be used to provide financial support for loved ones with special needs. Trusts can also be used to minimize taxes on your estate.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

If you die without a will in Pennsylvania, your assets will be distributed according to the state's intestacy laws. These laws determine how property is distributed when someone dies without a will.

Generally speaking, intestacy laws favor spouses and blood relatives. So, if you die without a will, your spouse is likely to inherit most of your assets. If you're not married, your children will inherit your assets.

The intestacy laws can get complicated, so it's best to speak to a lawyer if you're not sure how your assets will be distributed. In some cases, contesting the distribution of assets may be possible if you believe the intestacy laws are unfair.

How To Fill Out a Last Will and Testament in the State of Pennsylvania

Step 1 - Who will sign the document?

The testator, or the person making the will, must provide the information about them: their name and residential details. 

Step 2 - Who will serve as executor?

The executor is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will. You should trust this person to handle your affairs after your death.

Step 3 - What assets will be included in the estate?

Include a list of your assets, including real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, and life insurance policies. Make sure to include the value of each asset.

Step 4 - How will your assets be distributed?

You must specify how your assets will be distributed after your death. You can leave your assets to family members, friends, charities, or anyone else.

Step 5 - Who will be a guardian for your minor children?

If you have minor children, you will need to appoint a guardian for them in your will. This person will take care of your children if something happens to you.

Step 6 - Sign the document

Once you have completed the will, put your signature on it. 

The state does not require the last will and testament to be notarized or acknowledged by witnesses. However, you must be able to affix your signature to the document. Without this, any conspicuous mark can suffice as a proxy. In this case, two witnesses must provide testimony regarding your signature and an appearance alongside it, as stated in Pennsylvania laws.