By: Lisa Marie Vari
This is a question we often hear when speaking with people about estate planning. It is surprising that many people are under the impression that if they die without a will in PA, all of their property will go to the state, which can then sell it for a profit. This is simply not true. It is possible that so many people hear the term "estate sale" and assume the state is selling the property of a deceased person that did not have a will. However, it is highly unlikely, although not impossible, that the state will be taking a person's property after death, even if that person did not have a will.
Often people ask about how certain life changes can affect a will that is already in place in Pennsylvania. Typically, these life changes include having children, getting married, or getting divorced. This can be a very confusing area of the law for people who have changing families. This is also a good reason to do an annual will review. That way, it is more likely that the right beneficiaries are getting the correct inheritances.
In Pennsylvania, a person may die with or without having a will prepared. If a person has a will, it is important to make sure that the will was properly executed. If it is not, the courts may not honor the will if it is contested. To create a valid will in Pennsylvania, you must be at least 18 years old. The person making the will, commonly called the testator, must also be of sound mind at the time the will is created. Of course, the will must also be signed by the testator. In some situations where the testator is physically unable to sign, there may be an exception to this rule. Finally, the will must be witnessed, and this is usually done by two adults who are not named as beneficiaries under the will.