Why should someone do estate planning?

Estate planning is an essential process that individuals undertake to ensure their assets and personal affairs are properly managed and distributed according to their wishes after their passing or in the event of incapacity. Here are several key reasons why someone should consider estate planning:

Control over asset distribution

Estate planning allows you to control how your assets are distributed among your loved ones, charities, or other beneficiaries. It ensures that your wishes are respected and minimizes the likelihood of disputes among family members.

Minimization of estate taxes

Proper estate planning can help minimize the tax burden on your estate, allowing you to pass on more of your wealth to your intended beneficiaries. Various strategies, such as establishing trusts or gifting assets during your lifetime, can be employed to optimize tax efficiency.

Protection of minor children

If you have minor children, estate planning enables you to designate guardians who will care for them in the event of your untimely passing. You can also set up trusts to manage and protect their inheritances until they reach a certain age or achieve specific milestones.

Avoidance of probate

Through estate planning, you can employ strategies to minimize the need for probate – a potentially lengthy and expensive legal process that validates a will and settles an estate. By utilizing trusts, beneficiary designations, or joint ownership arrangements, you can streamline the transfer of assets and save your loved ones from the burdens of probate.

Incapacity planning

Estate planning includes preparing for the incapacity or inability to make decisions for yourself. By creating powers of attorney and healthcare directives, you can appoint trusted individuals to manage your financial affairs and make medical decisions on your behalf, ensuring your wishes are respected.

  1. Business succession planning: For business owners, estate planning is crucial to ensure a smooth transition of the business to the next generation or a chosen successor. It helps protect the continuity of the business, preserves its value, and minimizes potential conflicts among family members or business partners.
  2. Charitable giving: Estate planning allows you to support causes and organizations that are important to you by including charitable donations in your estate plan. This can significantly impact and create a lasting legacy aligned with your values.

Overall, estate planning provides peace of mind, protects your loved ones, and allows you to have a say in managing your affairs during incapacity or after your passing. It is advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney or financial advisor to tailor a plan that suits your specific needs and goals.

What is a trust in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, a trust is a legal arrangement where a person (the settlor or grantor) transfers assets to a trustee, who manages and holds those assets for the benefit of named beneficiaries. Trusts are versatile estate planning tools that serve various purposes and offer benefits such as asset protection, privacy, and flexibility. Here’s an overview of the trust process in Pennsylvania:

Determining the need for a trust

Trusts can be established for several reasons, including wealth preservation, avoiding probate, managing assets during incapacity, providing for minor children, or charitable giving. Consider your goals and consult an experienced estate planning attorney to determine if a trust suits your circumstances.

Selecting the type of trust

Pennsylvania recognizes various types of trusts, each with its own rules and purposes. Common types include revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, charitable trusts, and testamentary trusts. Selecting the right type of trust depends on your specific objectives and preferences.

Creating the trust agreement

The settlor works with an attorney to draft a trust agreement, a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the trust. The agreement typically includes details such as the names of the settlor, trustee(s), beneficiaries, the assets to be placed in the trust, and instructions for managing and distributing those assets.

Funding the trust

After the trust agreement is created, the settlor transfers assets into the trust. This process involves changing the legal ownership of the assets from the settlor’s name to the name of the trust. The specific method of transferring assets depends on the property type (e.g., real estate may require a deed transfer, while financial accounts may require beneficiary designations).

Appointing a trustee

The settlor designates one or more trustees to manage the trust assets and carry out the instructions outlined in the trust agreement. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the beneficiaries’ best interests and must follow the terms of the trust.

Administering the trust

The trustee is responsible for managing and protecting the trust assets, making investment decisions, distributing income or principal to beneficiaries as directed by the trust agreement, keeping accurate records, and filing any required tax returns for the trust.

Trust termination or continuation

Trusts can have specific termination dates or continue for an extended period, depending on the terms outlined in the trust agreement. Upon termination, the trustee distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the provisions outlined in the trust.

It’s important to note that the trust process in Pennsylvania may involve legal complexities and considerations. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney knowledgeable about Pennsylvania trust laws is recommended to ensure your trust is created correctly, administered, and aligned with your specific goals and wishes.

Estate Planning Packages

Estate Plan Package – per person – $1250

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Special Needs Trust, if needed
  • Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Healthcare Directive (Living Will)
  • HIPAA Authorization, if needed
  • 2 – 60 Minute Meetings with Attorney – In Person or Zoom
  • Signing with Witnesses and Notary, eNotary (if Needed) included
  • Access to online tools and Easy Process Questionnaire

Simple Will Package – per person – $500

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Healthcare Directive (Living Will)
  • HIPAA Authorization, if needed
  • 2 – 30 Minute Meetings with Attorney – In Person or Zoom
  • Signing with Witnesses and Notary, eNotary (if Needed) included
  • Access to online tools and our Easy Process Questionnaire