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Drafting a will protect yourself and loved ones

Dying without a will is a highly undesirable prospect. In the case of marriage, a surviving spouse generally will inherit the assets. For singles, however, Pennsylvania state law will dictate which relatives should receive the decedent’s assets and property. In both examples, the decedent’s estate will probably have to go into probate, regardless of marital status. That often means additional costs and delays.

Given the undesirable aspects of probate -- and our shared mortality -- it seems illogical to put off drafting a will. Yet according to recent survey data, 64 percent of Americans don’t have a will. Even half of the survey respondents near retirement age -- in the age bracket of 55 to 64 years of age -- had not yet drafted a will.

Fortunately, a majority of respondents apparently appreciate the importance of estate planning, stating that they just hadn’t gotten around to the task of making their wills. Yet there is no reason for procrastination, as an attorney that specializes in estate planning knows how painless and efficient the process can be. In the most basic sense, drafting a will is simply a legal means of ensuring that a decedent’s wishes for his or her estate are carried out. 

Admittedly, there are more complicated instruments, such as irrevocable and revocable trusts. However, an attorney can efficiently create even those documents. Additional tax-saving strategies may also be available. With the help of an attorney, an individual can draft a clear will and take peace of mind from knowing that he or she has taken steps that will help loved ones.

Source: Forbes, “Americans’ Ostrich Approach To Estate Planning,” Richard Eisenberg, April 9, 2014

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