Ask An Attorney: Preparing a Last Will & Testament

ANorthside Chronicle reader recently asked me about what type of information do I need to prepare a last will & testament. This month’s submission will briefly answer this query.

To prepare a last will & testament, a person must possess the proper testamentary capacity, namely, that the person preparing a will, known as a testator, is of sound mind. Courts in Pennsylvania start off with the presumption that a testator has testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity means that individuals know the extent of their property, knows what he or she wishes to do with the distribution of their property, and knowledge of whom will receive his or her property.

Besides possessing testamentary capacity, there are other requirements for a testator to create a valid last will & testament. One requirement is that testator must be at least 18 years of age. Additionally, the will itself must be signed in some way by the testator. It is also a good idea for the will to be signed in the presence of a notary and witnesses so that those individuals can assert that the testator knew what they were doing when they executed the will.

The requirements for a will are straight forward. The process of seeing that the testator’s wishes expressed in a will are carried out after the death is called estate administration. Estate administration involves filings with the court, tax returns, notification of beneficiaries, distributions of assets, and etc. If you have questions about this more complex area of estate law, please feel free to contact my office.

If you have any issues that you would like discussed in the next issue of the Northside Chronicle, please click here to contact Matthew Gailey through our website or give me a call at (412)223-6712.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July in the Northside!

Originally published in “The Northside Chronicle,”  July 2017 edition.

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