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Do I really need a will?

Most adults should have a will. However, roughly 70 percent of the population does not have one. It is understandable that you might not want to think about your own demise, but if you die without a will, Pennsylvania intestacy laws will determine how your assets are distributed. You would have forfeit control over who gets your property, who gets your money and who is appointed the guardian of your minor children.

If you have children under 18 years old, you should start the process of creating a will by determining who you want to be their guardian. You will also want to make a list of your assets, such as bank accounts, properties, vehicles and investments. Then you can determine who you want to inherit each of your assets. You will need to have at least the full names, addresses and birth dates for anyone you will include in your will. It can also be helpful to have a record of your debits like mortgages, loans and credit card accounts.

Once you have assembled all your necessary information, you need to ensure that all your wishes get put together in a valid will. Each state has its own requirements to make a will valid. In Pennsylvania you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. You also must have two witnesses sign the will in your presence, and you must declare in the presence of the witnesses that the document is your will.

Keep in mind that your will is not a document you write once and forget about. You should expect to update your will regularly. Some sources recommend you update it annually. However, you want to be especially careful to update your will every time you have a major life event, such as the birth of a child, a divorce, the death of a loved one or the purchase of a new home.

It is impossible to know what the future holds. Although there are many factors to consider when drafting a will, it is important to make your wishes known instead of leaving your assets to be distributed by the state.

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