The short answer to the title of this post is: probably.
I don’t have much in the way of true assets. A savings account, really. My home is still encumbered by a mortgage. My 401(k) isn’t worth bequeathing to anyone yet. In truth, I think the clearest value my unfortunate and untimely death would bring to my loved ones would be the amount of federal loan forgiveness my estate would enjoy. I don’t think I’m the exception. I think most 20-somethings are in a comparable situation. But I absolutely need to have a will in place. And you might too.
See, back in November of 2017 my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. After the initial shock of being a first time Father passed, I began thinking of all the ways I had to care for this little human. One such way was in the event of my unilateral death. That one is easy. My wife is the primary beneficiary of my life insurance, so she gets that and anything else left in my estate and she continues to be a loving mother to our daughter. Another such way was in the event of the death of both myself and my wife. Tragic, yes, but absolutely possible.
This is unfortunate situation is where having a will would be invaluable. No one needs added stress in the wake of a tragedy. A will can help by defining who takes care of a child if both parents die. The Pennsylvania Estate Law, otherwise known as the Decedents, Estates, and Fiduciaries Code, at § 2519, gives the right to appoint a “testamentary guardian” to the last surviving parent. Essentially, the testamentary guardian acts as a parent of the child until the child reaches the age of majority. Usually this is a close family member. Another benefit of establishing a will is that it can be used to provide for the financial support of a child in the event of death by both parents. Arguably, the best way to do this in Pennsylvania is to nominate a guardian in the will under the Pennsylvania Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, found at 20 Pa.C.S § 5301. This guardian, who often is the same individual appointed the testamentary guardian, will hold certain property – which includes life insurance policies and interest in real estate – for the benefit of the child until the child reaches the age of 21. These two considerations alone are reason enough for a parent to have a will. They’re why I have one.
I have simplified things a great deal in this post. There are legal complexities and procedural requirements when drafting a testamentary document such as a will. The Attorneys at Roland Stock have decades of experience in Estate Planning and Administration. Please call us today.