Pennsylvania's Statute of Wills

By A.L. Kennedy

Pennsylvania's statute governing wills is called the Probate Code. Like all states, Pennsylvania has its own laws that cover what makes a will valid and how the instructions in a will should be carried out after the person who has made it dies. Although you do not need an attorney to make a valid will in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Bar Association recommends consulting a lawyer to be sure your will is valid under Pennsylvania law.

Who May Make a Will

In Pennsylvania, anyone who is at least 18 years old and "of sound mind" may make a will, according to the Pennsylvania Probate Code. This person, known as the testator, must also sign his will. If he is physically incapable of signing the will, he may make his mark on it in the presence of two witnesses who understand the testator is making his mark on his will. If the testator cannot even make his mark, he may direct someone to sign his will for him. This person must sign the will in both the conscious presence of the testator and the presence of two witnesses, who know that the person signing the will was specifically instructed by the testator to do so, according to the Pennsylvania Probate Code.

Witnesses

Pennsylvania law requires two witnesses to sign the will if the testator has not signed it himself. Otherwise, the witnesses do not have to sign the will, but they do have to appear at the Register of Wills in the county where the will is filed in order to testify that they saw the testator sign the will. However, if the witnesses sign the will and the testator has it notarized, the witnesses do not have to testify, which can speed up probate, according to the Bucks County Courts.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Format

A Pennsylvania will must be in writing on paper, also known as a hard copy, according to "The Complete Guide to Planning Your Estate in Pennsylvania." Pennsylvania law does not recognize nuncupative, or oral, wills. Likewise, Pennsylvania does not recognize electronic wills or video wills as valid wills. You may choose to use an electronic or video format to supplement your will, but it cannot serve as your will in the probate court, which must have a written hard copy.

Revocation

Pennsylvania law allows you to revoke your will before your death in two different ways. You can either revoke your entire will by making a later will that states it revokes all prior wills, or you may revoke all or part of your will by burning, tearing or otherwise destroying it, according to the Pennsylvania Probate Code. Whenever you make a will or make a new will, include a phrase that says that this will revokes any and all former wills made by you, and include the day, month and year you are making the new or revised will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Wills in Pennsylvania

References

Resources

Related articles

Can You Change a Will Using Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney document gives the person you choose the power to make financial, medical and legal decisions for you if you become incapacitated, according to the 'Lectric Law Library. However, your power of attorney cannot change your will for you in any U.S. state, since all 50 states require you to have the mental capacity to make, change or revoke your will, according to FindLaw.

Is a Notarized Will Legal in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts law has specific requirements for what makes a will legal in the state. These requirements include who must sign a will in order to make it valid. Although a notary may sign a will as a witness in Massachusetts, a will that is notarized but not witnessed is not valid, according to the Massachusetts Probate Code.

Is it Legal to Handwrite a Will in Minnesota if You Get it Notarized?

A handwritten will may also be known as a holographic or olographic will. Some states recognize a handwritten will as valid even if it is not witnessed. In Minnesota, however, all wills must be in writing, signed by the testator and witnessed by at least two people who meet the minimum requirements for witnesses under Minnesota law. Without two witnesses, a handwritten will is not valid even if it is notarized, according to the Minnesota Probate Code.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Amend a Last Will & Testament

Finishing your last will and testament can feel like a huge weight off your shoulders. However, as your life ...

Are Homemade Wills Legal in Texas?

Texas does not require you to have an attorney draft your will, so you can write one yourself at home or complete one ...

Is a Self Made Will Legal if Notarized?

A self-made will is legal if it meets your state's requirements for wills. All states have requirements that include ...

How to Exclude People When Making a Will

Most states will not allow you to exclude your spouse from your will. According to the American Bar Association, this ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED