At Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace, we assist clients throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Region with preparing wills. Although many are aware of the importance of having a will, people often put off creating one until it’s too late. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly 60 percent of Americans do not have a will. While confronting our own mortality is daunting, creating a will as part of a comprehensive estate plan is the prudent thing to do.
When you consult with us, we will take the time to understand your concerns and address those concerns by providing you with trustworthy advice and caring, efficient service. Contact our office today for a consultation with one of our experienced wills, trusts, and estate attorneys.
The Benefits of Having a Will in Western Pennsylvania
The basic purpose of a will (Last Will and Testament) is to provide for the proper management and distribution of your estate assets after you pass away. A will allows you to name a personal representative, known as an executor, to carry out your instructions. While it is common for individuals to name a spouse or adult child, the person you appoint should be capable and dependable.
In addition, properly structured will can help to achieve other objectives, such as:
- Appoint guardians for minor children — A will is the only estate planning document that allows you to name a guardian for your minor children if (1) you become incapacitated by an illness or serious injury or (2) both you and the other parent die simultaneously in an accident.
- Provide for the care of minor children — A will allows you to establish a trust, referred to as an inter vivos or a testamentary trust, to set aside assets for our children. In this arrangement, a trustee is named to manage the assets for the benefit of your children until they reach a certain age.
Finally, a will allows you to establish funeral and burial plans, which can lift that burden from the shoulders of surviving family members.
The Risks of Not Having a Will in Pittsburgh
If you die without a will in place (“intestate”), a person of interest, typically a surviving spouse or another family member, will need to ask the court to be appointed as the estate administrator. This individual will be required to distribute your assets according to the intestacy laws of Pennsylvania, which prioritizes spouses, children, and parents. In other words, the wrong people may end up inheriting your assets. Also, if you have minor children, the court may appoint a guardian who does not share your values to raise your children.
The greatest risk of not having a will is the potential of disputes among surviving family members over who should get what, which can only add to their emotional burdens after you pass away. With so much at stake, the best decision you can make for yourself, your assets, and your loved ones is to create a will.
How Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace Can Help
Although estate planning documents are widely available on the internet, using documents that may not adhere to state legal requirements could render a will invalid. In short, a will must be properly prepared and executed to be validated by the court and ensure that your wishes are carried out.
By working with an experienced wills attorney, you can avoid costly mistakes and minimize the risk of legal challenges brought by dissatisfied family members. The attorneys at our firm are highly experienced in preparing wills and can help to ensure your estate plan achieves your objectives. In addition to wills, we can help you create other essential estate planning documents, including:
- A durable power of attorney
- Advance health care directive (health care proxy)
- Revocable living trust
- Special needs trust (to provide for a disabled loved one)
- Medicaid trust
Our estate planning practice is not merely about preparing documents. When you partner with us, we will take the time to understand your needs and tailor an estate plan to your objectives.
Other Important Facts About Wills in Western Pennsylvania
It’s important to remember that wills must go through probate, the court-supervised process through which the estate assets are administered and distributed. While state probate law provides for an expedient process, there are a number of requirements that must be completed before the estate can be closed. Probate also exposes your will to public scrutiny. For this reason, many of our clients can benefit from establishing trusts in addition to having a will to ensure their assets are properly distributed.
Contact Our Experienced Pittsburgh Wills, Trusts, and Estates Attorneys
Whether you need to establish a will for the first time or you have an existing will that needs to be updated, it is wise to work with the estate planning group at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace. When you become our client, you will have comfort knowing that your loved ones will receive the inheritance you intended for them. Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.