Younger Pennsylvania residents may think that it is premature to think about an estate plan, but having one is important for adults of all ages. Younger people might also think that they do not need an estate plan until they have children, but this is not the case. Single individuals need to protect their income and make a plan for their care in case they are incapacitated. Partnered individuals need to make sure that their partner is cared for. When a person is young and healthy is one of the best times to begin thinking about an estate plan.
If there is no will, the state law of intestacy will govern how assets are distributed. This will require court proceedings that can be expensive and time-consuming, and it can result in beneficiaries getting less than they would have with a will.
People may be tempted to use a do-it-yourself will, especially if their own financial situation seems fairly simple, but this can have pitfalls. These types of wills often do not address a person's particular situation, and it is easy to make errors that could cause a part of the will be to invalid or to delay the distribution of property. Individuals should also plan to review their estate plan annually to respond to changes in the family, in their financial position and in tax and laws that pertain to estate planning.
Even those people who have a valid will may not have enough protection to provide for future contingencies. An estate planning attorney may often recommend that a client consider such documents as powers of attorney that would grant a trusted individual the right to make financial or health care decisions should the principal become incapacitated.