For your will to be legally enforceable in Pennsylvania, the document must satisfy all state statutory requirements. There is certainly no shortage of attorneys in Pennsylvania who can draft a will that fully complies with state law, but finding one who will draft it for free will be difficult. However, you can write your own will for free if you take the time to gain a solid understanding of the laws.
Draft a list of beneficiaries to include in your will. Obtain the full names of each person and organization you want to make a bequest of property to through your will.
Make a list of your property. Your assets include real estate, financial accounts, vehicles, collectibles and all other personal items, even if they that have more sentimental that monetary value.
Write down the property you want to provide each beneficiary. Combine your property and beneficiary lists into one document to allocate the property to each beneficiary. If your intention is for multiple beneficiaries to share a single piece of property, such as a house, note the percent of ownership each beneficiary will receive.
Allocate the property you acquire in the future to beneficiaries. Since you don’t know how much or which type of assets you will obtain between the date of drafting the will and the date your estate is distributed, it’s important to decide which beneficiaries will receive all property you acquire in the future. If you intend on including more than one beneficiary, determine the allocation to each one using percentages.
Choose a personal representative to administer your estate. Under Pennsylvania law, the personal representative you appoint has the legal right to possess the property in your estate and is also responsible for maintaining and safeguarding it. Therefore, the individual you choose should be someone you trust. You may select a backup executor as well.
Draft the final will. At the top of the document, use clear and unambiguous language to state that the document is your last will and testament followed by the information from your preliminary lists, such as each beneficiary’s full name, the current and future property you bequest to them and the name of your personal representative. Most importantly, you must sign your name at the bottom of the document; otherwise, Pennsylvania probate courts can rule that the will is defective and unenforceable.
Pennsylvania doesn’t require your will to include the signatures of witnesses. However, it’s a good idea to include the signature of at least one witness who isn’t a beneficiary in the will. In the event a party challenges the will after your death, the witness’ testimony can be vital to protecting your wishes.
Before drafting the final version of your will, you should consider choosing alternative beneficiaries for each bequest in case any of them predecease you and you forget or are unable to amend your will.
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