Berman & Asbel, LLP

Wills let people control where their assets go after death

Most people would not want someone else controlling what they can do with the assets they worked hard all their lives to acquire, but that is what can happen if an individual dies without a will. Wills allow people to choose how the distribution of their property is to be handled after they die. Not having a will means that assets are distributed according to Pennsylvania intestacy law rather than according to the wishes of the individual who owned them.

The intestacy laws governing distribution of property of a person who dies without a will differ from state to state, but most of them divide estate assets between a spouse and the children of the decedent. Wills allow individuals to designate how much of their estate should be distributed to each of their heirs. For example, a person with grown children might want the distribution of property to go entirely to the surviving spouse instead of splitting it with children who are working and capable of supporting themselves. A last will and testament provides the means for a testator to allocate assets in such a way as to ensure they go to heirs who are most in need of them.

Individuals who are married with children are not the only ones with an incentive to prepare wills. The one-size-fits-all provisions of state intestacy laws distribute to next of kin. Someone passionate about a particular social issue or charity would benefit from preparation of a will in which part of the estate is given to a charitable organization.

People with concerns about inheritance issues and estate protection might benefit from legal advice about how state intestacy laws and laws pertaining to wills could affect them. An estate planning attorney could be a good source of such information.

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