When it comes to the often uncomfortable, difficult, and emotional decisions regarding the creation of a Will, The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter can help. The main purpose of a last will and testament is to communicate to relatives and the court your wishes. It is the best way to have your wishes carried out after you or your loved one has passed away.
If a person dies without a will, or what is known as "intestate," there may be unintended long-term impacts on those you love the most that are contrary to your wishes. Our skilled estate planning attorneys in Harrisburg & Mechanicsburg help clients draft a document(s) that ensures their wishes are carried out after death.
There are many questions to consider when drafting a last will and testament, such as:
- If you have minor children, who will you name as their guardian?
- Who will be the executor of your will?
- Who will your beneficiaries be and what share do they get of your estate?
- Are there any special circumstances that need to be addressed?
- Will you include charitable giving in your will?
We can help you answer these questions and draft a well-executed estate plan. Contact The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter to learn more. Offices in Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg, PA.
Legal Requirements for Making a Will
For your will to be valid, you need to sign it in front of two witnesses. While this seems - and often is - a minor technicality, there has been a non-negligible amount of litigation concerning what "in front of" means in this context. To be on the safe side, witnesses should be physically present in the same room as you and should visually observe you signing the will. One type of doubtful situation can arise when the witnesses observe the process via webcam. Be sure to avoid doing this.
The other major requirement for your will to be valid is that you possess testamentary capacity. This generally means understanding your property and how your will should affect distribution. You should also be making the provisions in this document due to your own free will and not because of coercion, fraud or undue influence. The mental capacity necessary for a valid will can be lower than that required in other legal settings, such as entering into a contract. An individual with some cognitive impairment can still possess testamentary capacity.
Likewise, a person who may have good and bad days in terms of mental capacity can make a valid will on a good day when he or she has the required understanding. While even a diagnosis of a condition such as Alzheimer's does not automatically mean incapacity, it is worth consulting an attorney about ways to protect a will from likely future challenges.
Wills for Parents
A last will and testament is one of the more essential documents in a well-crafted estate plan. It is critical, especially for those with children, to make your wishes known for when you are no longer living. Without a will, your wishes pertaining to the guardianship of minor children and the distribution of your estate can only be guessed by your loved ones. This can create confusion, disputes, and delays in your beneficiaries receiving their property. It may result in your children being cared for by persons you did not intend to guide their future.
Ensuring that your children are well-cared for in the event of your death is not an easy idea to contemplate, but it is incredibly important. Courts generally follow the wishes of the parents in granting legal guardianship of the children to the person(s) the parents nominate. However, if parents fail to make such provisions in their will, probate courts will appoint a legal guardian whom they feel is in your child’s best interest.
Choosing a guardian is not always an easy task; some questions to consider are:
- Do you trust this person?
- Would they be able to commit long-term to the task of raising your child?
- Are they physically able to care for your child?
- Do they have the personality traits you want?
- What is their financial situation?
- Does your child know and like this person?
Our attorneys can help you address these questions during the drafting of your will. He will create a will that accounts for your unique life circumstances, creating peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
If you have had a life-changing event, such as the birth or adoption of a child, a new business, a divorce, or the death of someone named as executor, your last will and testament should be updated to reflect these changes. Rather than rewriting a new will, a codicil to the original will may be the better option, but only if done so by an estate planning attorney, as a codicil can have unintended impacts.
When it comes to simplifying the process of creating a last will and testament, identifying and clarifying your goals and wishes, and answering questions you may have, let our legal team help you create one of the most important documents anyone can have.
Call (717) 537-0928 to schedule your initial consultation in Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, and throughout Central Pennsylvania.