Wills in Pennsylvania

by Beverly Bird
Pennsylvania’s estate laws are more user-friendly than those in some other states.

Pennsylvania’s estate laws are more user-friendly than those in some other states.

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Title 20, Sections 2501 through 3132, of Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes lists the state’s laws regarding wills. In some respects, they are more lenient than statutes in other states, but if you write your own will, it may still be prudent to have an attorney review the finished product to ensure it accomplishes everything you want and that your county’s Register of Wills, who accepts and approves wills after death, will not declare it invalid because of some technical shortcoming.

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Requirements

Witnesses to a will are not normally required in Pennsylvania, according to Ginger Golden, the Wayne County Register of Wills in 2010. However, if you are unable to sign your own name and need someone else to do it for you, then each of you will require two witnesses. You can make a will in Pennsylvania if you are older than 18 and are of sound mind.

Exceptions

If you make your will in another state, then move to Pennsylvania and pass away there, your will does not have to comply with Pennsylvania’s statutes. However, it must comply with all the requirements of the state where you made it.

Effects of Marriage

Most states invalidate any bequests made to an ex-spouse after divorce and Pennsylvania is no exception. This provision of the state’s statutes can only be overridden if your will specifically states that you don’t want the divorce to have any effect on the bequest. Pennsylvania does not allow you to disinherit a spouse. If you do so inadvertently by failing to make a new will naming him after you marry, then he is still entitled to a portion of your estate by law, equal to what he would have received if you had died without a will. Any property you own jointly with your spouse, such as real estate and investment accounts, overrides your will and passes directly to him on your death, regardless of divorce.

Revocation

You can revoke your will in writing in Pennsylvania, or you can simply destroy it by burning it or tearing it up. If someone else destroys it on your behalf, however, they might have to testify in court later that they did it at your direction. If you revoke your will in writing by making a new will that expressly annuls the first one, then you revoke the second one as well, your first will does not automatically take effect again.