If my husband (76) dies before me, how do I protect my assets?

Q: We have not made out a will. I have heard of probate, but do not know what this is. We jointly own our own home. What kind of will do we need? How can I best protect my assets should he pass away before I do? (Mt. Lebanon, PA)

A: To protect your assets if he should die, act now. Both of you should make an appointment with an estate planning attorney. To properly advise you much more information needs to be known about your assets, your health, your long-term health insurance, post-retirement income, etc. To answer your immediate question, if your husband died without a will, under PA intestate law, the first 30K of his estate would go to you and balance would be shared by you and any child or children you have or any child or children he may have. This would necessitate the filing of a PA inheritance tax return. If one dies with a will or without, it is still necessary to file a PA inheritance tax return.

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