Q: Do I need a will? I have no real estate, just bonds and a bank account. My 4 children know it is to be split up evenly and they agree with my wishes.
A: No attorney can answer this without more information. Do you have a wife? If so, she cannot be totally disinherited by you and can file an “election” against your estate. Do these assets pass directly to your children either in-trust-for or jointly? If there is no spouse and the assets pass directly, it could be a very simple process and your children would receive their inheritance, pay inheritance tax and there would be no need to open an estate. If you have no will (“intestate”)and these assets do not pass directly to the heirs, an estate will need to be opened and the assets will pass under the PA laws of intestate succession to the heirs equally. Under intestate law, if you have a deceased child, that child’s child or children will inherit the share of their parent. If you have a will you can choose to have the share of a deceased child instead pass to your surviving children or any one of your surviving children. You have more say in how your estate passes when you have a will. You can also choose which child will serve as your executor, which could avoid any potential disagreement among your children. I would advise having a consultation with an estate attorney and having a simple will done.