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Wills & Estates

Wills & Estates Attorney Located in Bucks County, PA

What is Estate Law?

Estate law is the body of laws that govern the way a person’s estate is handled, both in their lifetime and also after they become deceased or incapacitated. This includes overseeing how that person’s property is managed in both their lifetime, as well as after they are deceased or have become incapacitated.

The term “estate” refers to all of an individual’s personal belongings, real property and intangible assets, such as patents or copyrights. Any debt and taxes on the property owned may also be included as part of the estate.

It is therefore not surprising that estate law covers a broad range of legal matters, which includes virtually anything relating to a person’s real property and its financial aspects.

One final important thing that you should know about estate law is that it often overlaps with laws concerning wills and trusts, and also the rules that govern estate planning.

What Does Estate Law Cover?
As previously mentioned, estate law is a broad field of law that covers matters such as:

Estate Planning
Estate Administration

Why do you need a Will?

Executing a valid will is perhaps the most important step in the estate planning process. A will allows a testator (the person writing the will) to determine how his or her property should be distributed upon death. If someone does not have a will when he or she passes away (referred to as “dying intestate”), or a court finds that the will is invalid, the state will distribute property according to intestacy laws.Bucks County Wills & Estate Law Attorney

These laws are essentially predetermined inheritance guidelines which usually work their way down your family tree, with property going to your closest relatives first. Therefore, having a valid will can mean the difference between your estate going to your close friend as you had always wanted, or everything going to a long-lost relative you’ve never even met.

Each state has its own laws detailing the legal requirements for making a valid will. In Pennsylvania, the law requires that the testator be at least 18 years old and of sound mind (mentally competent). In addition, the testator must declare that the will is his or hers in front of two witnesses, and these witnesses must then sign the will in front of the testator. Note that Pennsylvania does not recognize oral wills or holographic wills (wills written entirely in the testator’s handwriting, but not signed by witnesses).

One of the most significant legal papers a person can make while still alive is a Last Will and Testament. State laws will decide how and to whom an individual’s assets are transferred if they pass away “intestate,” meaning they did not create a will. 

Under the statutes of intestacy, beneficiaries of a deceased person cannot contest the court’s allocation of the deceased person’s estate. The statutes determine the distribution, even if the deceased individual expressly indicated other wishes during their lives. A person can legally specify how and to whom their property will be divided by having a valid Will.

For a Will to be deemed valid, it must adhere to the state’s legal criteria. If a will was executed in another state and is deemed legitimate by the laws of that state, the majority of states will likewise accept it. A valid will typically needs to meet the following general requirements: (a) it must be written, which means it must be typewritten or printed; (b) it must be signed by the person making the will and (c) it must be signed by two witnesses who were present to witness the maker’s execution of the will as well as their own signatures.

Our Wills & Estates Services

If you have need a Will or have Estate questions in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, including the areas of Holland, Southampton, Feasterville,  Newtown, Richboro & Langhorne, you should contact The Law Office of Neal E. Newman. 

 

 

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