Last Will and Testament
If you are age 60 or older and in need of a Last Will and Testament we may be able to help depending on the county you live in (in some counties we contract with local Area Agencies on Aging who may be able to help).
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that does several important things after your death. If someone dies without having a will, state law will determine which relatives will inherit your property. If you have no relatives, the State will inherit your assets.
What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that does several important things after your death. In a will, you name the people who will receive your possessions after you die. You can decide who will receive things like your home, cash, cars, investments and other possessions after your death. Your will is also where name your "executor." A Will must be in writing and it must be signed by you and dated. It is best, but not legally required, to have two witnesses also sign the will and have it notarized. Some possessions or assets automatically change ownership when you die, whether you have a will or not. For example, if you own a home or other assets like a bank account or a car in joint names with another living person, the title to the joint asset will generally become the property of the other person whose name is on the property or account.
What is an Executor?
An executor is the person who will work to distribute your possessions, make sure your debts are paid, and carry out the legal process of "Probate".
What is Probate?
Probate means that after your death an “estate” is filed with the Register of Wills in your county. Your estate includes all of your property, including your debts. An executor, usually named in your will, will be appointed to manage your estate. If you do not have a will, an Administrator, usually a family member, will be appointed. In probate, the Court supervises the management of your estate, the payment of any inheritance taxes, and oversee the proper distribution of your assets to your heirs.
What is an Estate?
Your estate includes all your possessions at the time of your death. This includes, but is not limited to, real estate, personal property, pets, claims (like lawsuits against others), and/or money you have in the bank or under your mattress. Your estate also includes all of your debts and liabilities.
Who are my heirs?
Heirs are people who will receive your possessions after you die. Generally, your heirs are named in your will. If you die without a will, state law governs who will receive your possessions.
What about inheritance tax?
An inheritance tax is a state or federal tax you pay when you receive money or property from an estate. There are many exemptions and limitations that may apply to your situation.
If you have questions about Pennsylvania state inheritance tax, you should contact an estate attorney or read about it on the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue's website. For questions about federal inheritance tax, visit the IRS website.