Wills Attorneys Serving Pennsylvania

Estate planning is a worthwhile and rewarding process to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing.

One of the most important estate planning documents you will need is a will. At its core, a will specifies who will inherit your property, who will be the guardian of your children, and who will oversee the execution of your estate after death. 

Despite the significance of having a will, most Americans don't currently have an estate plan in place. While creating a will may seem straightforward, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to avoid any legal considerations or potential pitfalls that can impact the distribution of your assets or the security of your loved ones. 

At Barsik Law Office, our team is experienced in helping our clients create a comprehensive estate plan that includes both a will and other important legal documents. We will work closely with you to tailor an estate plan to your specific needs. 

Our estate lawyer, Sean E. Barsik, proudly serves clients across Lehigh Valley, Allentown, Philadelphia, Stroudsburg, and the surrounding areas. 

What Is a Will?

A will, also known as a testament, is a legal document that allows individuals, referred to as "testators," to specify how their assets should be distributed upon their death. It encompasses a variety of asset types, including real estate, personal property, investments, and other finances.  

Apart from asset distribution, a will outlines provisions for the care of minor children, charitable donations, and the appointment of executors who will manage the estate's settlement. This document becomes active only after the testator's death and, importantly, must adhere to state-specific legal requirements to be considered valid.

These requirements include:  

  • The testator must be at least 18 years old. 

  • The testator must be of sound mind and understand the nature of the document being created. 

  • The will must be made voluntarily, without any coercion or undue influence. 

  • The will must be in writing. 

  • The will must be signed by the testator or by another person under the testator's direction and in the testator's presence. 

  • The will must be witnessed by two individuals who see the testator sign the will (or acknowledge the signature) and who each sign the will in the presence of the testator. 

Without a valid will, state laws, known as intestacy laws, will dictate how assets are distributed and who becomes the guardian of minor children. This can lead to unintended consequences and potentially leave loved ones without proper financial support.

Need Help Creating a Will?


Types of Wills

Creating a will is a fundamental component of estate planning that makes sure your wishes are honored and mitigates potential disputes among your surviving relatives. Depending on the size and direction of your estate, several types of wills can be created: 

  • Simple will: A basic document that outlines who will inherit your property and, if applicable, who will assume guardianship of minor children. This type of will is most suitable for individuals with straightforward estate planning needs. 

  • Testamentary trust will: A will that creates a trust, which allows a testator to transfer assets into a trust upon their death. It places conditions on how and when your assets are distributed, often to provide for minor children or family members with special needs. 

  • Joint will: A single document created by two individuals (usually spouses) that merges their individual wills into a single document. 

  • Living will: Not to be confused with a testamentary will, a living will is a document that outlines an individual's wishes regarding medical treatments and life-support measures in the event they become incapacitated. 

It's important to note that Pennsylvania does not recognize holographic wills (written entirely in the testator's handwriting and not signed by witnesses) or oral wills (made verbally to others). At Barsik Law Office, we will help you understand the different types of wills and determine which aligns best with your estate planning goals. 

What Should Your Will Contain?

In Pennsylvania, a valid will should comprehensively address several essential elements to ensure it meets state laws and fully captures your intentions. These elements include: 

  • Testator identification: Clearly state your name and affirm that you are of legal age to make a will, are of sound mind, and are not under any duress. 

  • Executor appointment: Designate an individual (or institution) who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions of your will and managing your estate's affairs. Be sure to choose someone you trust, and also name an alternate executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. 

  • Beneficiaries: Specify the names of any individuals, organizations, or other entities that will inherit your assets. Be as clear as possible to avoid any possible disputes. 

  • Asset distribution: Provide detailed instructions on how your assets should be divided among your beneficiaries. This includes heirlooms, real estate, and monetary assets. 

  • Guardianship provisions: If you have minor children or dependents, nominate a guardian who will care for them if you pass away before they reach adulthood. Similar to naming an executor, consider appointing a backup guardian. 

  • Signatures: Your will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who also need to sign the document. To avoid potential conflicts of interest, these witnesses should not be beneficiaries of the will. 

  • Date: The document should be dated to confirm when the will was signed. This is crucial to determine which is the most recent and valid, especially if there are multiple versions. 

While these elements make a will legally valid, certain circumstances of your estate or wishes may require additional considerations. Consulting with an estate planning attorney, like our team at Barsik Law Office, can make sure your will complies with Pennsylvania law. 

Why Is Having a Will Important?

Having a will is important for making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. If you die without a will, your assets will be divided according to state intestacy laws. This may not reflect your personal relationships, values, or intentions and could lead to potential conflicts and complications for your loved ones. 

Intestacy Laws 

When an individual dies without a will, their estate is considered "intestate." When this occurs, state intestacy laws, often referred to as "laws of intestate succession," dictate how the deceased's assets are distributed. These laws provide a default framework that aims to provide equitable asset distribution, which may not be in accordance with the deceased's wishes. 

In Pennsylvania, intestacy laws prioritize the deceased's closest relatives, starting with spouses and children and then extending outward to more distant relatives in a predefined order.

The rules aim to approximate what a typical person might have decided had they made a will, but without direct input from the deceased, the outcome can be significantly different from their wishes.  


Probate is a legal process through which a deceased person's will is validated and their estate is administered. This process involves cataloging the deceased's assets, appraising their value, settling any remaining debts and taxes, and finally allocating the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries as specified in the will. 

Having a clear, well-drafted will can streamline the probate process, making it easier for the court to execute the distribution of your estate efficiently and for the executor to distribute assets according to the deceased's wishes.

This approach can reduce the time and costs associated with probate and help prevent possible conflicts among beneficiaries regarding inheritance issues. 

At Barsik Law Office, we understand both intestacy laws and probate in Pennsylvania. We're here to help you create a comprehensive and legally sound estate plan. 

Why Choose Barsik Law Office?

At Barsik Law Office, we offer comprehensive services to help you create your will. Our experience in estate planning law in Pennsylvania enables us to provide guidance tailored to each state's unique laws.  

From initial consultations to drafting and revising documents, we aim to make creating a will as straightforward and stress-free as possible. This allows you to feel secure in the knowledge that your estate will be managed according to your exact wishes. 

Wills Attorney Serving Pennsylvania

Having a will in place is more than just a formality. It's a way to make sure your assets are managed and your loved ones are taken care of.

If you or a loved one needs help drafting a will or setting up a comprehensive estate plan, reach out to us today at Barsik Law Office to get started. Our dedicated team is ready to guide you through every step of the will-creation process.