Do I Need a Will?

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5 Reasons To Draw Up a Will & Estate Plan Now

Clymer-WillHave you been putting off drawing up a will? You’re not alone. The AARP reports1 that nearly 6 in 10 adults in the United States do not have a written will.

If you have any assets (you probably do), and especially if you have children, you must have a will to ensure that your estate is executed according to your wishes.

When you die without a will, or a court finds your will to be invalid for some reason, the government defines it as “dying intestate.” In this situation, the state distributes your property according to current intestacy laws. The inheritance guidelines follow your family tree, starting with your closest relatives first (spouse, siblings, etc.)

In the absence of an executable will, your property could end up in the hands of a long-lost relative who you’ve never met versus a close, trusted family member or friend whom you’ve designated. Having a legal will in place prevents this situation.

Consider these five reasons to draw up a will and estate plan now and gain the peace of mind that people who you trust will execute your wishes appropriately.


1. Avoid State “Trap” Wills

If you don’t have a will of your own, the state has one for you and it may be quite different than what you had in mind. Having a will ensures that your wishes for all of your assets, large and small, are honored in terms of what family, friends, and charities receive after you’ve passed.

2. Establish Guardianship

If you have minor children, you want to make the best choice possible for who will be their guardian and who will manage their inheritance, if you and your spouse are no longer here. In such event, you want the assurance that your children will be raised by people who will influence them with the values and beliefs that are important to you. Without your making the designation of a guardian in your will, a court will make that decision and it might not be what you wish.

3. Make Decisions So Your Family Doesn’t Have To

You want to make things easy for the ones you care about. In the event of your passing, family and friends are given to grief. By establishing procedures in your will, like appointing the Executor, directing how decisions should be made, how assets should be handled or special provisions for beneficiaries who may have special needs, you are making it easier for the people you love by making the decisions to fulfill your wishes as opposed to forcing them into a rigid formula mandated by law.

4. Reduce Estate Taxes & Allocate Funds

Having a will can save those you care about money and time. A will allows an estate to move through the system as quickly and smoothly as possible. A properly drafted will and estate plan can reduce the taxes owed on your estate. In the end, wouldn’t you prefer to have less of your money go to the state?

5. Gain Peace of Mind

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. By preparing a will, you are forced to think about your assets and the ones you love and set your house in order. Nobody likes to think about death and dying but by disciplining yourself to plan for the event that will one day come for all of us, you will experience the peace of mind in knowing that you have prepared for the inevitable and have made provisions for those whom you love.


Basic Process for Creating a Will at Clymer, Musser & Sarno

  1. Personal questionnaire
  2. Discuss your wishes
  3. Prepare documents
  4. Review together
  5. Follow up questions
  6. Sign documents

Pro Tips

  • Store all documentation in safe deposit box or fireproof safe.
  • Make sure you tell your executor where the records are stored.
  • Your executor doesn’t need to know how much money you have, but it’s good for them to know where your financial accounts live.
  • Your designated executor doesn’t need to sign anything to become your executor, but it’s a good idea to discuss your plans with them beforehand.

About the Author

James N. Clymer, Esq. is Managing Shareholder at Clymer, Musser & Sarno, PC in Lancaster. Mr. Clymer practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate law, and business law. Attorney Clymer is a member of The American Center for Law and Justice, The National Legal Foundation, and the American Family Association Law Center, among others.




Clymer, Musser & Sarno, P.C.

408 West Chestnut Street
Lancaster, PA 17603

203 Commerce Drive
Quarryville, PA 17566