In Pennsylvania, any person over 18 years old who is mentally fit can make a will. The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes set forth the provisions for the creation of legally binding wills in the state. Hiring the services of an attorney can help you navigate the state’s will requirements. However, you can also write a will on your own at no cost by carefully following the state guidelines.
Designate two people to serve as your witnesses. Although Pennsylvania does not require a will to have a witness when signed, lawyers usually provide two witnesses. Having witnesses makes it easier to prove the signature of the deceased when the will is presented to the local Register of Wills for probate.
Read More: How to Write a Will for Pennsylvania
Open a document in a word processing program or use blank sheets of business letter-size paper to write your will. An entirely handwritten document is called a holographic will.
Type or write “Last Will and Testament” as the title of the document.
Type or write your name, your address, the date and a declaration that you are of sound mind. This is the introductory clause.
Type or write a sentence declaring that this is your last will and that it revokes any previous will or codicils that you have written. This is your declaration clause.
Make a list of all of your personal property and the individuals you would like to bequeath items to in your will. Per Pennsylvania law, any assets jointly owned by married couples will be automatically passed to the surviving spouse. If you want to create a trust for your children, assign a trustee to hold the property in the trust until your children reach an age you designate to receive the property.
Make a list of all of your financial assets, including bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate and other financial holdings.
Write a section detailing how your property and financial assets should be allocated based on the list you made. Include a list of the items and assets to be set aside in a trust for your children. This is the bequest clause.
Write a section detailing how many remaining items that are not included in your will should be allocated. This is your residuary clause.
Designate an individual to serve as the executor of your will. Write a paragraph detailing your appointment of this person to this role.
Write a section detailing guardianship arrangements if you have children under the age of 18. This is helpful even if you are married in case you and your spouse die simultaneously. Designate an alternate guardian in the event that your first choice is not able to take care of your children. This is your guardianship clause.
Save and print the will. Sign the will if you are physically capable. If not, you can mark your will in front of your two witnesses who will also sign the will in your presence. This makes the will valid according to Pennsylvania law. If you are unable to make a mark, one of the witnesses can sign for you if you declare in front of them that the document is your will.
Store the will in a safe place like a safe deposit or fireproof safe. Make sure that someone you trust knows where the will is located. A will in Pennsylvania becomes public record after it is presented for probate to the local Register of Wills.
- Pennsylvania General Assembly: Consolidated Statutes: Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries: Chapter 25: Wills
- Wayne County, PA: Register of Wills
- City of Philadelphia: Register of Wills - Overview: Wills
- Government of the County of Berks: Register of Wills: Probate/Estates
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Where There's a Will, There's a Way
- Law Offices of Peter L. Klenk: Frequently Asked Questions
- Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images