For most people, there are many uncertainties associated with the creation of a Will. Deciding if you need a Will and eventually preparing one can raise a lot of questions and if left unanswered, can also lead to problems in the future. Below are a few of the most common questions associated with creating a Will:
1. Should I have a Will? The simple answer is yes. All persons over the age of majority should have a Will. If you fail to have a Will at your death, the Commonwealth, according to statute, will determine who your beneficiaries are.
2. What does a Will actually do? A Will provides for the disposition of your property. Your executor (the person named in your Will to handle the distribution of your property) should hire a seasoned lawyer to probate your Will. Once creditors, taxes (if any) and estate administration expenses are paid, the remainder of your property is distributed to your beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of your Will.
3. What is the best Will for me? A Will drafted by an attorney experienced in estate planning. While there are a number of programs available on the internet to assist you in drafting a Will, oftentimes they are not state specific and leave out key provisions.
4. If I am married, does my spouse need a Will as well? Yes, most married couples hold large property (like a house) jointly and, upon the first to die, the property remains with the surviving spouse. However, upon the second death, all of the assets will be in the surviving spouse’s name alone and, therefore, it is important that each spouse have his or her own Will.
5. Can I set up a trust under my Will? Yes. Many clients create a trust under their Will for the benefit of their spouse and their heirs (called a testamentary trust). A trust can also be set up outside the Will, which will save court involvement and fees related to same.
6. How much do Wills cost? It depends on the complexity of the estate planning issues involved. Often, attorneys will create basic estate planning documents including a Will, a healthcare directive and a power of attorney, for a reasonable fee. As stated earlier, it is important that you have a trusted estate planning attorney prepare your estate planning documents as other methods, including the internet, are unreliable.