When you die, there are Pennsylvania state laws that can guide the process of distributing your property to family members. Intestate succession laws specifically focus on the rights of spouses and children, although more distant family members also have inheritance rights if someone dies while unmarried and without any surviving descendants. Anyone who dies without a will can rely on intestate succession laws to pass their property to their closest family members.
Instead of leaving your legacy at the mercy of state law and the probate courts, you potentially have the right to take control. You can draft a will that provides your own instructions regarding the distribution of your belongings and financial assets after you die.
Who has the right to draft a will in Pennsylvania?
You need to be a legal adult
Typically, to have the authority to create a will or trust documents an individual needs to be a legal adult. Most of the time, someone needs to have attained at least 18 years of age to draft a will. There may be special exceptions for those who secure emancipation while they are still minors.
Anyone over the age of 18 may benefit from the state planning anyway, as their parents lose the necessary authority to handle financial matters and medical care choices on their behalf when they become adults.
You need to have mental capacity
When people say that you have to be of sound mind to create a will, that typically means that the courts would have to agree that you were capable of making independent adults decisions. Those who have severe mental health conditions may not have testamentary capacity under state law. The same is true of those coping with cognitive decline related to age. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can leave someone unable to create testamentary documents.
Those who are at least 18 years of age and who have the cognitive ability to understand the consequences of their estate planning decisions typically have the right to create a will. They will need to learn about state law to ensure they don’t violate any rules with their instructions and that they have appropriate witnesses for the document.
Drafting a valid will is one of the simplest solutions for retaining control over your legacy after your death.