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Pennsylvania Lawyers and New Jersey Lawyers of Stolee and Associates
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    Estate Planning

Why Do I Need A Will?

One of the most important legal decisions each of us face is to decide how our assets will be used after death and who will benefit from them. Unfortunately we never know when we might die; but we can take steps to insure that our loved ones are not faced with legal uncertainty upon our demise. This can be accomplished through a carefully drafted Will.

A Will is a legal document that determines the disposition of your estate and addresses other items that help put your affairs in order after you die. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy and the few; in fact, every person over eighteen years of age should have a Will providing for the disposition of their home, money and other assets upon death. Even if you have limited assets, the Will can and should be used to give directives upon your death, such as naming a guardian for your minor children and an executor. Sadly, statistics indicate that about 70% of Americans die without a Will (referred to as dying Intestate).

What Are The Benefits of Having A Will?

  • Provides an opportunity to take care of your loved ones after your death
  • Enables you to name legal guardians for your minor children
  • Provides for the distribution of your assets according to your wishes
  • With proper planning, a Will can protect assets and minimize estate taxes and probate costs
  • Permits you to establish a legacy without giving up your assets
  • Helps prevent disputes between loved ones
  • You decide how and when your children will receive their inheritance
  • You choose who will be the Executor of your estate
  • Provides for gifts to charity or charitable causes.

What Happens If I Don't Have A Will?

State law dictates how the Estate will be divided in all instances of death without a will. Without a Will, your money and possessions will be distributed according to a formula fixed by law. This fixed formula will not take into account any special needs of any individual or family member. This also means that your spouse may have to share your assets with other family members. Additionally, dying without a Will could mean that your minor children will be placed in the care of a guardian appointed by the court, rather than someone that you would have chosen to raise them. That is why it is so important for you to  legally declare your intentions in a valid Will.

Why Do So Many People Die Without A Will?

There is no good reason for not having a Will. Procrastination is most likely one of the principal reasons people die without a Will. Other common excuses for not having a Will include:

  • I can't afford the cost to have an attorney draft a Will
  • I don't want to contemplate death
  • My estate is not large enough for a will
  • I don't need a Will, my family will get all my assets
  • The Court will distribute my assets automatically and equally to my family
  • I'm too young, I'll get a Will when I get older
  • Only people with children need a Will
  • Creating a Will is to difficult because of family conflict

Is Estate Planning Expensive?

Not necessarily. Small or modest estates that do not require extensive tax planning are very affordable and can usually be done on a fixed fee basis. Most Americans can achieve affordable estate planning that is tailored to their specific needs. Larger estates dictate more planning for asset preservation; accordingly, they are generally billed on an hourly basis, rather than a fixed fee basis. We offer affordable fixed fee estate plans that not only includes a Will, but will also includes the other essential estate planning documents: Durable General Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and  Advanced Health Care Directive (Living Will). To learn more about affordable estate plans click here.

How Often Should I Update My Will?

You should review and update your Will whenever there is a significant event or change in your life or in the lives of those impacted by your Will. These include:

  • Changes in your marital status
  • Changes in where you live
  • Changes in persons you want to receive your property
  • Changes in your wealth
  • Changes in tax laws

Regardless, it is always a good idea to review your Will periodically to insure that it still reflects your wishes.

Contact us today to further discuss your estate planning needs.

Stolee and Associates is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, although we help individuals nationally, with the help of our network of law firms in other jurisdictions.