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Documents in handwriting may qualify as a will

In the past, Pennsylvania readers may have heard of estate planning among rich people or in the movies when someone dies and the rest of the estate is distributed among heirs or beneficiaries. Now, estate planning tools such as trusts, wills, durable powers of attorney and guardianships are gaining popularity as more people are becoming aware of their importance.

Readers in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, may be interested to know more about a will, which is one of the most common tools in estate planning. Generally, wills give written instructions about how to divide or distribute the property or assets among heirs in the event of a person's death. Witnesses must be present during the drafting of the will in order for it to be enforceable and to ensure that the document was not signed under duress.

As mentioned above, a will must be witnessed by witnesses; however, there is an exception to the rule - the holographic will. Holographic wills are handwritten documents left behind by a person who may have felt that his or her death was drawing near. The holographic will can designate to whom the testator's estate will be given in the event of death. Pennsylvania is one of the states that recognize holographic wills.

Still, the best way in drafting a will is do so in the presence of a legal professional adept in estate planning administration. Wills can be disputed by the heirs. In order to avoid such cases from happening, a testator must ensure that the document is well-drafted and properly prepared. Additionally, by consulting an attorney, individuals will have a better understanding as to how to properly use estate planning tools to avoid costly mistakes.

Source: Northwest Indiana Times, "Estate planning: Television estate planning vs. the real world," Christopher W. Yugo, Jan. 11, 2014

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