I have been asked so many times- "Do I really need a will?" The answer is, regardless of your age, yes you do!
If you are older and you want to make sure that you determine who gets your assets after death, you must contact an attorney that does wills & estates to prepare a will or the state will allocate your assets after you die pursuant to a statute, regardless of your verbal wishes before death.
Dying without a will is known as dying "intestate". Pennsylvania has its own intestate statute which determines the after death distribution of assets.
It is really important that you have a will if you are a young parent because the will is generally used to determine the subsequent guardianship of your children. Without a will, the courts will decide who will be the guardians and it may not be what you would have chosen if you had a will.
Another important aspect of a will for young or older parents is the use of a trust. If you have young children, you certainly do not want them to have unfettered control over your estate, so you would form a trust within the will. In the trust, you get to describe who manages the trust (i.e., the "trustee") and, most importantly, how the assets will be distributed. For example, you might not want a child to receive a significant portion of the trust until they are thirty (30) years old or older. This can be outlined in the trust.
Even if you have older children, a trust might be helpful. Let's face it, with a 50% divorce rate, sometimes you might want to keep the assets away from your children's spouses. A trust is one way of accomplishing that goal as funds in trust are not part of the marital estate.
Believe me, there are numerous reasons to have a will and it does not take much time with the attorney to draft one. Feel free to call me, a Pittsburgh attorney, for a free initial consultation. It will be worth the peace of mind you will gain.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A durable power of attorney (DPA) is a document, in the form of a power of attorney, by which an individual (the "principal") designates another person (the" agent") to exercise certain powers for the principal in the case the principal is disabled or incapacitated and cannot act on their own. The document generally states that said power given to the agent becomes effective at a specific future time or occurrence of a specific event. If should be noted that all acts performed by the agent under the DPA have the exact same affect as if performed by the principal.
Durable powers of attorney are generally used by elder children whose parents are in their golden ages. It is a great management tool for the family in case of illness.
Feel free to call for further discussion or for the need and uses of a durable power of attorney.
A living will is a legal document by which individuals, who are patients of a health care provider, give advance medical directives to the health care providers as to medical procedures in case certain conditions occur (i.e., debilitating illness or incapacity) that would not allow the patient to make immediate decisions regarding his or her own care. The advance directive can be very general or very narrow. Many of the directives relate to whether or not you would want your family to continue life support machines or the administration of certain drugs.
The living will is a great planning tool for adults of any age. Feel free to contact me with any questions.