Let Liebmann Family Law customize your Will to protect you lifetime efforts and you family goals.

Liebmann Family Law is located Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a properly prepared will can substantially shorten up most of the process known as “probate”.  Probate is the process of having the court confirm the validity of a will, appoint the legal representative for the decedent’s estate, and allow estate administration to commence.  We are fortunate to have a very streamlined probate process in Pennsylvania, provided the will has been properly prepared.


If you do not have a will, your property does not automatically go to the state.  Instead, a court will apply the Laws of Intestacy to determine who your beneficiaries will be.  For example, in Pennsylvania, if you are married and have children only from your marriage, if you have no will then assets in your name are divided between your spouse and your children.  Your spouse will receive the first $30,000.00 plus one-half of the balance of the intestate share.  The other half will be equally divided among your children, and held in separate special accounts, to be distributed when a child reaches the age of eighteen (18).  If you do not have a will and are survived by a spouse and no children, but you are survived by a parent or parents, your spouse will receive the first $30,000.00 plus one-half of the balance of your estate.  The other half will go to the surviving parent or parents.


The point is that your estate may not go to the people that you wish to receive your estate, to be held and disposed of in the manner that you select, if you do not have a will.


More importantly, with a will, you pick who will raise your children and who will be the guardians of your children during their minority.  Without instructions in a will, a court must ultimately decide who will raise your children.  You are in the best position to make this determination, not a court.  With a will, you safeguard your right to name a guardian of your children.


Taxes due upon death can also be affected if there is no will.  This is particularly true for people with large estates.  There are two levels of taxation upon death:  federal and state.  On the federal level, the Federal Estate Tax is payable for estates exceeding $5,490,000.00 (for 2017).  On the state level, there are three different tax rates for the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax:  0% for surviving spouses; 4.5% for lineal descendants (parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren); and 15% for all others.


Your best bet is to have a will properly prepared by an experienced attorney.  This is the best way to make sure that the will is valid under applicable state law and that you get the full advantage of having the will.  Prior to meeting with an attorney, take the time to prepare a basic list of your assets and debts and their values, and think about the important people that you would like to appoint:  the executor of your will who is in charge of concluding your final affairs and making sure the will is followed; who will be the trustee of any trusts set up for minor beneficiaries; and who will be the guardian of any minor children during their minorities.


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A will is a legal document that contains your instructions for the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children after your death.  A will also appoints a personal representative who has the authority to carry out the instructions in the will and put your affairs in order.  If you do not currently have a will, the people you care about the most may not receive the assets you wish to leave them in the event of your death.  Furthermore, if you do not have a will, the people that your trust the most to take care of minor children and to take care of your personal affairs may not wind up in charge. 


It is very important that the will is properly prepared according to the laws in the state in which you reside.  If the will is not properly prepared, it can become very difficult or even impossible to enforce the will.  In Pennsylvania, a self-proving will can substantially reduce the process of probate.  A self-proving will requires very specific language and written formalities.


Normally, in Pennsylvania, a minor child who is a beneficiary will receive his or her inheritance upon turning eighteen (18).  With a properly prepared will, a trust can instead be established so that the distribution is delayed until a later age, such as age twenty-five (25).  This puts the final distribution beyond the date at which most children would graduate from college.  In the meantime, a trustee can distribute money from the trust to help the child with support, education, health, and maintenance.


Trusts set up in a will can be tailored for very specific circumstances.  For example, a child who is disabled and is or may be eligible for public or private benefits can be the beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust, or a Supplemental Needs Trust.  These trusts, which also require very specific language and formalities, can supplement public and private benefits without rendering the beneficiary ineligible to receive such benefits.


If you have questions about adopting a child in Bucks County PA, Liebmann Family Law will help you today.

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Call the Bucks County Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Liebmann Family Law, at 1.215.860.8200 or contact us online and schedule your free initial consultation.