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FAQs About Wills in Pennsylvania


A will tells the Pennsylvania courts who your beneficiaries are, or who you want to receive your assets upon your death. It also resolves personal matters, such as who will get custody of your children if there isn’t another surviving parent and the child is a minor. When considering making a will, many people have some common questions. Can you handwrite a will in Pennsylvania? Can you add to a current will? The answers to these, and other frequently asked questions, are below.

What are the Legal Requirements for a Will in Pennsylvania?

There are few requirements for making a will in Pennsylvania. A person only has to be 18 years old and of sound mind. When you make a will, you are the testator and must sign it, although there is no requirement that you sign in front of witnesses. You do need two witnesses to sign your will. Self-proved wills are also valid in Pennsylvania. These are separate pages that are also signed by you, two witnesses, and a notary. The purpose of these wills is that upon the death of the testator, the will is still accepted and the witnesses do not have to be located.

What is a Codicil?

A codicil is an addition to a will that has already been executed. A codicil can involve only changing a number or name, or it can be much more complex, and add an entire new section to your will. Once written, a codicil is considered part of a will and is read at the same time as the reading of the will. Creating a codicil has the same requirements as creating a will in Pennsylvania.

Can I Revive My Old Will by Destroying my New One?

If a person creates one will and then writes a new one, the new will is considered the valid will. If circumstances change and you want to revert back to the old one, you can destroy the new will. However, you also need to state in writing that you wish to revive your old will.

Are Handwritten Wills Valid?

All written wills are valid in Pennsylvania as long as the testator is 18, has signed it, and has also had two witnesses sign it.  

What Happens to My Will Once it’s Written?

Many people think once you have created your will, you must file it with the courts. In Pennsylvania, this is not true. After creating a will, many people choose to store it at their attorney’s office, and place a copy in a safety deposit box.

Have More Questions? Call a Pennsylvania Estate Planning Attorney

While the above are some of the most common questions regarding wills, you’ll likely have many more when it’s time to write yours. At Haggerty, Hinton & Cosgrove, LLP, we are the Scranton estate planning, probate & trust administration attorneys that can answer them. We’ll guide you through the entire process and ensure you have a will that’s enforceable, and that reflects your final wishes. Call us at 570-344-9845 today and start planning for tomorrow.




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