As you begin the estate planning process, you may be unsure whether your family would be best served by a will or a trust. Generally, a will and a trust serve different purposes, but both can be extremely beneficial. Many Pennsylvania residents discover that they need both a will and multiple trusts to protect their assets and ensure that their family is well taken care of after their death.
No one wants to think about their eventual death, but it is necessary to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and your assets are protected. If you are in the beginning stages of estate planning, one of your first steps should be to create a will. For your will to be valid, it will need to meet all the requirements required by the state of Pennsylvania. If your will does not meet the requirements, the courts may deem that you died intestate or without a will, and your assets will be distributed in accordance with the laws of Intestate Succession.
Some past posts of ours have discussed the importance of revising estate plans after a divorce or a new marriage. It makes sense to change the beneficiaries of a will, especially if a primary beneficiary was an ex-spouse. It also helps newly married parents plan for how to support blended families after they are gone.
After a person dies, decisions must be made regarding the person's assets. "Probate" is the name for the legal process for determining the fate of much of a deceased person's assets. Probate happens regardless of whether the decedent had a will or not. If a decedent dies without a valid will, the assets are distributed according to Pennsylvania's rules of intestate succession.
It is impossible to predict the future, but a strong estate plan can help you lay the foundation for a strong future for yourself and your family. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to estate planning, and any effective plan should be tailored to your individual needs and objectives.