With the growing popularity of legal websites that produce boilerplate forms, I frequently get asked if online wills are valid. The answer is MAYBE.
In Pennsylvania, there is no requirement that an attorney has to draft your will. There is also no requirement that only a licensed mechanic is allowed to fix your car’s brakes. You can purchase new brakes and install them on your own. That being the case, a professional mechanic can help to ensure that the brakes are installed correctly and will function properly.
This is the example that I give to my clients when I’m asked me if the will they found online is valid. I give this example because some of the wills that clients bring to me from online searches are okay. On the other hand, there are many that are not only invalid, but do not address key issues.
During your lifetime, a will provides you with the assurance that your assets will be handled in the manner that you want when you pass. A will has no legal force or effect until someone passes away. Often, and unfortunately, a will is not scrutinized until after someone passes away. This means that when the stakes are highest and there is no opportunity to revise an invalid will, a Court can decide whether or not the will is valid.
Beyond the issue of whether or not a will is valid, a lawyer can help advise you of key issues you may want to address in your will or matters you may want to keep in mind after your draft your will. Who will administer your Estate? Did you consider appointing an alternate in case that person is unable to or unwilling to administer the Estate? Is there a way to avoid or minimize inheritance tax? Where should you keep your will? Who should you tell about your will?
Bononi & Company has advised clients from our Greensburg Office for 35 years. We are proud to have additional offices in Latrobe and Johnstown to help better serve those clients. If you are considering drafting a will, feel free to contact us at 724-832-2499.
Marco F. Sylvania is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and Florida.