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October 2014 Archives

Pre-Death Will Validation Part II

Questions about the capacity of the testator can be resolved by direct testimony of the testator. The testator is there, thus able to answer questions, explain his or her intentions, correct misapprehensions and eliminate ambiguities. Beneficiaries would have to consider carefully their complaints or contests.

Pre-Death Will Validation Part I

Most of the United States use post-mortem probate. A person's will is submitted for probate after his or her death. The idea is that after the testator is dead, the will is read and the testator's estate is distributed in accordance with his wishes.

How Does Adoption Affect Inheritance? Part II

In January of 1972, the Court agreed to hear the Estate of Tafel. The children of the decedent, Tafel, were enjoying the income of a trust created in his Will, with the remainder to be distributed to his child's issue, if any, and if none, the remainder was to be given over to the other siblings. One of Tafel's children, a son, had adopted two children after his father's death. The law at the time supported the presumed intention of the testator: if the son with the adopted children dies before his trust is distributed, the remaining amount would go to his brothers and sisters. Before the case was decided, a new Wills Act was passed in June of 1972 that eliminated the "cut-off date" of the grandparent's death. The Court had for years wanted to address this issue, and so the court's ruling, delayed until November of 1972, made new case law that exists today.

How Does Adoption Affect Inheritance? Part I

The question of the rights of inheritance of adopted persons has a long history in this Commonwealth. Until 1855, adoption needed the approval of the state legislature. Then the legislature got out of the adoption business, moving it to the judicial system. The Wills Acts of 1855, 1887, 1889 and 1911 all stated that adopted children had the same rights to inheritance as the adoptive parents' natural children.

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Spencer Law Firm LLC
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Lancaster, PA 17603

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