The Last Will and Testament, or will, is a document written by an individual called a testator that takes effect only after an individual dies. The will may be changed during the testator’s lifetime as long as that person is mentally competent to change the will. The will provides who has the right to inherit the decedent’s probate assets. Probate assets consist of assets solely in the decedent’s name that are not governed by a beneficiary designation. These assets may include real property, personal property, a vehicle, checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, business interests, and a safe deposit box.
Not only does a will name the beneficiaries of the decedent, but the testator has the ability to name his or her executors in a will as well. The executor will be the individual who is tasked with properly administering the decedent’s estate. If the testator has minor children at the time that the will is drafted, the testator may name a proposed guardian of their minor child or children in the event of his or her untimely death. A will also addresses other issues including how Pennsylvania inheritance tax is handled by the estate, if the executor must post a bond to serve in that role, and if there are any special conditions that must be fulfilled in order for a beneficiary to receive their inheritance from the estate.