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Creating a Last Will and Testament in Pennsylvania
A last will and testament is one of the most important documents a person will create in their lifetime. In a way, this form sums up a person’s life by providing instructions for what should happen to the individual’s property, who will take care of their dependents, and other matters. And yet, many Americans never create a will, leaving a probate court to decide what happens to their worldly possessions.
There are many common reasons for not making a will. For instance, some people don’t think it’s necessary to create a will because they don’t have a lot of property and assets; others can’t afford to pay an attorney several hundred dollars to create the document; and many elderly individuals with mobility issues simply can’t reach a lawyer’s office, especially if they don’t have access to a vehicle. However, creating a will is a critical responsibility for everyone, regardless of their age or how much property they have.
Online will making companies allow you to create a last will and testament in Pennsylvania for under $70 without leaving your home. In this article, we will explain the Pennsylvania last will and testament requirements, talk about what makes a will legal in Pennsylvania, and answer other popular questions. Plus, we will present the top 3 best companies that offer online last will and testament forms in Pennsylvania.
There are over a dozen companies that allow you to create a last will and testament in Pennsylvania in PDF format. This document can then be printed out and signed, just like a will created by an attorney. All of these companies offer different forms at varying price points. For example, in addition to a standard will, you can also write up a living will, living trust, power of attorney, and many other documents.
All online will makers provide instructions in plain English, making it easy to create a document even if you don’t have a specialized education. Plus, most companies customize their forms to the laws of each state in order to ensure that their customers get valid, legally binding documents. Some will makers allow customers to purchase individual documents, while others also have subscriptions or packages. Overall, an online will is an excellent solution to most people’s estate planning needs. You can use the online will maker reviews on our website to choose the best service for you.
Pennsylvania is the fifth-largest US state by population. The state also has a very large proportion of elderly residents. For instance, over 17% of people living in Pennsylvania are over 65 years of age, and roughly 2.5% of people are older than 85. This puts this state in sixth and third place for the proportion of people over 65 and 85, respectively, out of all fifty US states and Washington DC.
Population over 65
Population over 85
Average Household Size
Average household wealth
Lawyer hourly rate
With this many senior citizens living in the state, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania residents have a significant demand for estate planning documents. While the average household wealth in the state is more than $110,000, which puts it in 15th place nationally, many people still don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a will made by an attorney.
Making a Will in Pennsylvania
Yourself or authorized representative
Testator minimum age
Pennsylvania law allows people aged 18 and over to create a last will and testament. The person who is creating a will (otherwise known as the testator) has to be of sound mind at the moment of creating the document, and they are required to sign the document themselves or have their authorized representative sign it. If you can only leave a mark instead of a signature, or if a representative signs the document on your behalf, you will also need to have two witnesses sign the document to make it legal.
Pennsylvania doesn’t require testators to use the services of lawyers or notaries to create a valid will, so you can easily use an online will-making service and save a lot of time and money. However, keep in mind that the state only accepts written wills, so you need to print out the document after creating it or write it by hand.
Editing and Revoking a Pennsylvania Will
Pennsylvania law allows testators to amend or revoke their wills at any point in time. There are several ways to revoke a will. You can:
Physically destroy the document or have someone destroy it in front of you and two witnesses on your request.
Create a new will that states that you’re revoking the old document. Getting the new will witnessed is critical for the court to agree that the second document overrides the first one.
Put together a document that states that you’re revoking the old will without making a new form. This document should be created following all the requirements necessary to create a will.
If you want to make significant changes to your last will and testament, the best option is to replace the old document with a new one. But if you need to make minor edits, you have the option of creating a codicil, which follows the same requirements necessary to create a will.
Pennsylvania Self-Proving Affidavit
A self-proving affidavit is a document that makes your will considered “self-proving,” which greatly expedites the court process. This sworn form has to be signed by the testator of the will and both witnesses to the will in front of a notary public. A self-proving affidavit is usually a short one-page document that doesn’t require an attorney. Some will making companies, like eForms and LawDepot, even include an affidavit free of charge when you create a will using their services.
Without a Pennsylvania self-proving will affidavit, witnesses to your last will and testament will have to testify in probate court to certify your will after your death. This can present many issues because these people may be difficult to track down after many years. However, if you make your will self-proving by creating a notarized affidavit, this won’t be necessary.
What happens if you die without a will in Pennsylvania?
If you don’t have a will at the time of your death, your assets will be distributed according to Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws, which will hand your property over to your closest living relatives.
Are there restrictions on how I can leave my property?
PA last will and testament laws don’t limit who can serve as a beneficiary of your will. However, spouses are entitled to ⅓ share of the estate by law.
Is a handwritten will valid in Pennsylvania?
Yes, handwritten or holographic wills are valid in this state as long as they obey all standard requirements for wills.
Can I make a digital will in Pennsylvania?
As of 2022, Pennsylvania doesn’t accept digital or electronic wills, unless the document is created in a state where electronic wills are considered legal. Thus, if you create a will online, you need to print it out and sign it.
Does a will have to be notarized in PA?
No, notarization is not always required for Pennsylvania wills, but it is necessary to make the document self-proving.
Concluding Words About Creating a Will in Pennsylvania
Each Pennsylvania resident older than 18 years of age and of sound mind has the right to create a last will and testament which determines who will inherit the testator’s estate after their death. The document doesn’t need to be notarized but in some cases, it has to be signed by two witnesses to become valid. Residents of the state can use online services to create a will without an attorney but it’s necessary to print out the will after creating it online, as the state currently doesn’t accept digital or electronic wills. You can also revoke the old will or make amendments to it by creating a new document.