Basic Function of Wills
April 13, 2021
Hi everyone, I’m Jessica Rafferty. I’m an attorney at QuatriniRafferty and this is Legal Tip Tuesday.
Last time I talked to you in general about what an estate plan is. Today, I wanted to talk to you about one of the components, and it’s probably one that you’ve heard about, and that’s “The Will.” I’m going to be doing a couple segments about wills because they can actually do an awful lot, but today I wanted to talk to you about what most people think of as its basic function. And that is to pass assets to the people that you want your assets to go to upon your death.
So, if you don’t have a will what happens? In Pennsylvania, there’s actually a statute called “the intestacy law” and the state has created a will for you whether you know it or not. And, the state created this based on what they think the majority of people would want. Now, I will tell you that the majority of people that come and talk to me do not want what the state wants, so it’s important that you have a will because then you can decide who receives your assets.
Another common misconception is that your will dictates what happens to all of your property. For most people, that’s not true. So, when you die your property can pass one of two ways. One is through the will, but the other is through “contracts”.
So, what’s an example of a contract? One of the most basic examples would be a life insurance policy. So, if in your life insurance policy, you say Person A gets my life insurance policy, but in your will you say everything goes to Person B, Person A is still going to receive your life insurance because you’ve made a contract with that life insurance company, and you’ve told them who receives the policy upon your death.
So, there can be a lot of different contracts. There are IRA’s, 401ks, Pension Investment Accounts. Most of those will give you the opportunity to list somebody who would receive your property upon your death and those would all be contracts. And, even though those are not passed through the will, it’s an important component of your estate planning, and I can get into more information about that in later videos. But, suffice it to say, I make sure that I understand what everybody has, whether it be passing through the will or through a contract, because it’s really important to your ultimate plan.
So, that’s kind of the basic function of an estate plan, or a will (I’m sorry), and I will get into some more details about what the will can do in the next episode. So stay tuned, and if you have any questions about this part of it or you want to talk to me about your own situation, feel free to drop me a message below, email me, call me. I’m happy to talk with you.
And, until next time, I’m Jessica Rafferty. Again, this is Legal Tip Tuesday. Have a great day!