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It’s important to have a will for a number of reasons. First of all to make sure that you get to make your own choices as to what you want to happen, and second it gives you an opportunity to save taxes if there are ways in which to save taxes. When I say you get to do what you want to do, under the law in Pennsylvania, as in most other states, there are laws called the intestate laws, and the intestate laws say that if you die without a will, this is what happens to your property.
Now many people who are married operate under the assumption that if their married, they own property and they don’t have a will, everything is going to go to their spouse. But the law doesn’t work that way. For people who are married and have children, about half is going to go to the spouse and about half is going to go to the children no matter how young they are. If they don’t have children and they have living parents, about half is going to go to the spouse and half to the parents, and that’s not what most people want. So it’s important to have a will to avoid having the intestate laws become involved.
In addition, by having the will, you get to decide who gets your property, what percentage of it each person gets, how they get it – and by how they get it, I mean, do they get it outright or does it come in some form of a trust, and you just get to decide when they get it. If it’s in a trust, at what point do the beneficiaries get that property. Without a will, you don’t get to make any of those decisions. In addition, by having a will you get to chose who is going to be the executor, the person who administers your estate, and you get to chose who is going to be the guardian for any minor children you have. So there are a lot of good reasons why it’s important to have a will.
Philadelphia, PA estates & probate lawyer Marc H. Jaffe explains why it’s so important to have a will in place.