How Does a Will Work?
A will is a legally enforceable document that outlines how your estate will be handled following your death. In your will, you may dictate which individuals stand to inherit certain pieces of property. After the will is signed by you, it must be witnessed by other individuals who can attest to its validity in the event the will is contested. When you pass away, an individual (as named in your will) will serve as executor of the will, taking charge of your assets and arranging for them to be disbursed according to your instructions.
What Happens if I Pass Away without a Will?
Each year, 55% of individuals who pass away do so without a will. The state of Pennsylvania possesses laws of intestate succession. Put simply, these laws dictate what must happen to your estate in the event of your death if you do not have a valid will. Broadly speaking, a surviving spouse, your children, and then other close relatives such as your parents will automatically be given some or all of your estate. There is no room for negotiation with the intestate succession laws. These laws are designed to minimize conflicts and confusion amongst family when an individual passes away without a will. However, this can result in hefty estate taxes and an unfair distribution of your property.
Does Estate Planning Only Involve Wills?
No! Estate planning refers to the entire process of readying your estate for your death. This may include making preparations for medical decisions in the event you cannot make them on your own, such as through a living will. This also includes constructing trusts that are designed to shelter certain assets from taxes.
How Do I Minimize Estate Taxes?
Unbeknownst to many, estate taxes have the ability to eat a sizeable chunk of your assets, reducing the overall amount distributed to your heirs. To avoid this, you need to seek the wise and knowledgeable counseling of a skilled Pennsylvania estate planning lawyer. A gifted attorney can aid you with forming trusts, developing a plan for business succession, and more. The best course of action will depend on your specific circumstances.
For Estate Planning Assistance, Call Us Today
If you are confused by complex estate planning laws, contact the Columbia County estate planning attorneys at Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC today to schedule a consultation. With over forty years of combined experience, we can assist you with drafting a will, forming a trust, protecting your best interests, and preserving your assets. If you are located in Bloomsburg or Columbia County, call us at (570) 784-5211.