How Having a Will Protects You and Your Family
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on March 27th, 2015
If something should happen to you, is your family protected? Do you have adequate life insurance coverage? And perhaps most importantly, do you have a will that states how your assets should be distributed and a living will that provides information about the kinds of medical treatment you wish to receive if the need arises?
For every family, these decisions and the planning they require are critical and immensely helpful if something should happen to you or your spouse. That’s why every family should take some time to talk about these issues ahead of time, before any kinds of serious health crises or accidents might occur.
So how does a will differ from a living will?
A will provides detailed, written instructions about who will receive your assets in the event of your death. If you don’t leave your own instructions but you die owning assets, a legal framework exists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that distributes your assets without regard to your personal wishes essentially through a “pecking order” for everyone from spouses to children to other relatives who might make a claim. Many times if someone doesn’t leave a will and dies, then their assets can be awarded by the court to relatives who they might not have included in a will. If you don’t want to leave your assets to be distributed by default, having a will should be something that is on your immediate “to do” list.
A will names an executor who will ensure that your assets are distributed as you see fit. A named executor should be a friend, a relative or somebody who you have confidence in who will follow the instructions in the will document.
Your will safeguards the assets you’ve accumulated over your lifetime and declares who your beneficiaries are, while controlling the distribution of the money to your children who might be under 18 years of age. You can indicate at what age intervals a portion of the trust principal should be distributed to them and you can describe under what circumstances the accumulated interest of the estate should be distributed.
A living will is different, but just as important. In Pennsylvania, the living will, which is also called a Health Directive, sets out your detailed health care wishes that would be followed in the event that you become incapacitated and can’t verbalize your wishes for medical treatment. It details your specific wishes about resuscitation, feeding tubes and other medical procedures that might be required to continue your life if you should become severely injured, removing your family from having to make these kinds of painful and difficult decisions.
With the help of a lawyer, any individual can create a will and a living will relatively easily. A simple will can be prepared by an attorney starting at $250 and go up depending on how complicated it is and whether there are trust provisions, marital trusts and other factors. Once created, it should then be amended as needed from time to time as your life situation changes through marriage, the birth of children and other factors. By having a will in the first place, it is much easier to change it as situations change over the years.
People can even prepare a will using a kit they can buy in a store or online using standardized forms from a number of websites which can then be printed, witnessed and put away for safekeeping. The benefit of going to an attorney, however, is that you then have a professional to help you and answer your questions and concerns in detail while providing personalized service with some of the most important legal documents in the lives of you and your family.
The completed wills can be kept by your attorney or kept in a safe place such as a home safe or a safe deposit box. If a death occurs, your attorney can then assist you and lead your family through the probate process, which distributes the assets that are set forth in the documents.
Having these documents can help a family avoid contentious and bitter legal fights involving the death of a loved one when no will exists. A will document is essentially part of one’s own housekeeping and is a critical part of organizing your estate for when you are gone. By creating a will, you have reduced your wishes to writing and spelled out how your assets are to be distributed and to whom.
Certainly, death and wills are not pleasant subjects to talk about, but if you don’t deal with these issues, you end up leaving these important decisions up to the courts and the laws of your state. It’s certainly better to have a will that will properly fulfill your wishes and directions in the event of your loss, rather than leaving it up to the courts.
When you are ready to protect yourself and your family, go to a qualified and compassionate attorney who can draft the legal documents that will make these situations less stressful for everyone.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer would be honored to assist you with the creation and maintenance of these crucial documents, as well as with trusts, estates and other family related legal filings. We are also here to assist our clients when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness or indifference of others. It is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award to ensure that you and your family receives every penny in damages that you are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
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