Although many people would rather not think about end-of-life matters, it is important to be prepared. The attorneys at Friedman Schuman have over 30 years of experience assisting clients when it comes time to draft a will. This is one of the most important things a person can do to protect the future of their estate. If you need legal assistance drafting a will, contact Friedman Schuman today.

Is a will necessary?

Drafting and executing a valid will is arguably one of the most important steps in the estate planning process. A will is drafted by a testator, usually with the help of an attorney. A testator names an executor of the estate within the will. The executor’s role is to administer the estate upon the testator’s death. The will can outline how the testator wishes to have his or her estate distributed and to which beneficiaries the assets will go to upon the testator’s death. While not legally required, a will allows an individual to pre-determine the distribution of their assets to loved ones upon passing. This can eliminate or reduce the uncertainty of the financial stability of one’s beneficiaries.

When a person dies without a will (intestate), this may disrupt the appropriate distribution of assets to loved ones. It can also cause assets to be distributed to those who the decedent did not wish to receive such assets. This may include a relative who is unable to manage money or property or a person who may not have otherwise had a claim if a valid will was in place. Preparing and executing a valid will can also help lessen the time it takes a court to complete the probate process, which can reduce legal fees and even help avoid potential legal issues.

How do I ensure a will is valid?

The preparation of a will in Pennsylvania is a relatively simple process. However, there are a few requirements when developing and preparing a will.  Pennsylvania law requires that the testator, or the person who is writing the will, is at least 18 years of age. The testator must also be mentally competent when creating his or her will. A testator is required to declare his or her will in the presence of two witnesses and those witnesses must sign the will in front of the testator.

Can I contest the validity of a will?

While most wills are generally acceptable by the Register of Wills, there may be times in which a will may be contested. Beneficiaries may recognize signs of duress or genuinely believe the testator was not in the right mind when creating the will. This may give a family member cause to contest the will. However, not just anyone can contest a will. If the will is found invalid, only an individual who stands to benefit from the estate may bring an action to contest it. Pennsylvania law may allow for a will to be contested on these specific grounds:

  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Improper execution
  • Undue influence

If an individual believes that a loved one’s will is invalid, he or she should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Seeking the help of competent legal counsel can help an individual understand his or her rights, as well as guide them through the legal process. Contact Friedman Schuman today.

Contact an experienced estate planning attorney

Friedman Schuman provides legal services to clients in Pennsylvania for all their estate administration and estate planning needs. Estate planning can be complex, demanding the need for a knowledgeable legal professional. Contact Friedman Schuman for a consultation to discuss your legal needs.