What Difference Does A Will Make?

What Is A Will?

A will is a writing signed at the end by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age and of sound mind wherein that person directs the distribution of property at death. The Will may also appoint guardians of the estates of minors who receive property under the Will.

    Should Everyone Have A Will?

    Yes. Generally, for young married persons to dispose of their property and to appoint proper persons as the guardians of the persons and estates of their minor children; for the middle-aged to provide a plan of distribution for their dependents by benefiting those with the greatest need and conserving their property for their spouse and/or children; and for the elderly to make distributions which benefit spouse, children, grandchildren, and charities.

    What Occurs When There Is No Will?

    Pennsylvania Law applies to the appointment of personal representative and the distribution of property by designating the heirs and their share of the decedent’s estate. Guardians of the person and the property of minors must be appointed by the Orphan’s Court.

    When Is A Will Effective?

    A Will is effective at the death of the testator. It may be revoked at any time prior to death by a Will or Codicil later in date or by destruction of the Will itself by the testator. The Will, which the Register may allow to Probate, is the last Will signed by the testator.

    Does The Law Require A Witness When The Will Is Signed?

    No. The law does not require eyewitnesses (subscribing witnesses) to the signature of the testator in order for the Will to be valid. However, it is the custom to have two (2) subscribing witnesses present since at the time of probate, two witnesses, subscribing or non-subscribing, must appear and identify under oath the signature of the decedent on the Will. Wills can be made self-proven if proper acknowledgments and affidavits are signed by the testator and witnesses at the time of execution. Self-proving Wills eliminate the need for the witness appearing at the Register’s office.

    When Should A Will Be Changed?

    The disposition of one’s property is necessarily determined by many personal factors including family and personal relationships and interests in charities. You should consider changing your Will when relationships change due to events such as marriage, birth of children, and death. Changes to a Will may be made either by a completely revised Will or by a codicil conforming to the requirements of a valid Will.

    Is There Any Time Limitation On The Validity Of A Will?

    No. A Will does not ‘expire’ or become invalid because of the passage of time. It becomes operative when a person dies. A person may make many Wills in their lifetime. The last Will of the person before death is the valid one.

    When Is A Will Probated?

    Any time after death, if the deceased had assets in his/her name alone.

    What Forms Are Required For Probate?

    The original Will, the original death certificate and one typed probate application.

    What Fees Are Required For Probate?

    There is a myth that Probate Court fees are expensive. A large portion of the fee is based on the size of the probate estate assets. In Clinton County it is very rare for probate fees to exceed $500.00.

    What If There Is No Will?

    Letters of Administration are granted to the next of kin of the deceased or their nominee. An attorney’s assistance is recommended.

    What Expenses Are Deductible For Inheritance Tax?

    Debts of the decedent and administrative expenses, such as attorney and executor (administrator) fees, are deductible for inheritance tax purposes.

    What Forms Are Required For Letters of Administration?

    An original death certificate, a typed application for probate, and renunciations from any non-servicing parties in interest. For fees, see a current fee schedule.

    Do I Need To Advertise The Estate?

    If probate with grant of letters is issued and then advertised creditors of the decedent will be unable to make claims against the estate one (1) year subsequent the one (1) year advertisement.