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Experienced Wills & Contested Wills Attorneys in Bucks County
A will is an important safeguard to ensure the wishes of an estate planner are honored which is why it is helpful to understand the components of a will and how to ensure a will is valid. A validly executed will is a key component of an estate plan, so estate planners should understand what it involves. An advanced healthcare directive and power of attorney can ensure the testator’s medical and financial wishes are honored, even if they become incapacitated. At Begley, Carlin & Mandio, LLP, our lawyers can guide the way.
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What Are The Reasons to Have a Will?
A will can ensure the estate planner’s estate is distributed according to their wishes and provides the necessary protections for the estate planner’s family and loved ones. A will can be especially important to protect minor children and appoint a guardian for them. In addition, a valid will and well-thought-out estate plan can also help avoid the time and cost associated with the probate process and can help minimize estate taxes.
Properly attending to estate planning can also help avoid disputes related to the estate, saving family members stress during an extremely difficult time. Taking care of an estate plan provides peace of mind for the estate planner and their family members and can help resolve any uncertainty family members may face.
Complete Your Estate Plan with a Living Will
If you have already created a last will, you might think that your estate planning process is over. However, simply allocating your assets to certain people is far from a comprehensive estate plan. The best estate plans address not just mortality, but also incapacitation. People could find themselves unable to make decisions or advocate for themselves for a broad range of reasons.
Many different documents belong in a thorough living will. For example, the inclusion of an advance medical directive is of utmost importance. Your medical directive will outline your personal preferences and wishes regarding medical choices. You can discuss everything from resuscitation and organ donation to the use of pain medication or life support.
For many people, a living will serves as a stopgap between an illness or injury and their death, when their last will takes effect. Medical decisions aren’t the only issue your family will have to deal with. There may also be financial obligations, ranging from mortgage payments to taxes.
What if a Will is Contested?
It is important to know in what circumstances a will may be challenged. Any interested party in a will may challenge it, but it's the spouses that most commonly challenge a will. It is difficult to successfully challenge a will as the vast majority of wills proceed through the probate process uneventfully. A will may be challenged on the grounds the estate planner lacked the testamentary capacity to execute their will.
Testamentary capacity may be challenged on the basis of the estate planner’s age. To validly execute a will, the estate planner must be 18 years old or older to be considered to have the capacity to execute a will. In addition, the estate planner must understand the extent of their property, who their beneficiaries are, and what making the will means, just to name a few. A will can also be challenged if there was any fraud, forgery, undue influence, or duress involved in making the will.
Lastly, the execution of the will must meet witness and signature requirements which can vary by state so it is important for the estate planner to be familiar with what the requirements are in their state. Part of a complete estate plan includes ensuring that the will is validly executed so that it, along with the overall estate plan, can provide peace of mind for the estate planner and their family members and hopefully avoid any will contest down the road.