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The importance of wills

Most people living in Pennsylvania understand the importance of providing for their families after they die. While legal experts generally agree that the most important thing people can do to ensure that their affairs are settled quickly, inexpensively and appropriately after they pass on is to create a will, many people simply don't ever bother to write one.

In fact, the results of a recent survey showed that 64 percent of Americans don't have wills. The reasons are varied, but often have to do with people's mistaken belief that they don't need these documents. Unfortunately, this is a misconception that can cause significant stress for family members and loved ones who may disagree on how their loved one's estate should be managed.

Even individuals that don't have many assets should create wills. These directives can address issues that aren't related to finances, including guardianship of children, end-of-life planning and who should act as executor of the will. A person who has little in the way of financial assets may still own possessions that will need to be distributed or disposed of after death. Some lawyers have witnessed intense family feuds being waged over seemingly insignificant items such as bowls, articles of clothing and costume jewelry. The presence of wills in these situations can help defuse such tensions.

Individuals and couples who want to create a will may benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to review his or her clients' cases and recommend the best course of action on issues regarding the distribution of assets, appropriate language to use in the wills and protecting their estates, such as through trusts.

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