Our Estate Attorneys Help Safeguard Your Assets
You've worked hard. The last thing you want to do is see your estate mishandled, leaving your loved ones in a bind. Our estate attorneys provide comprehensive estate planning services to ensure that doesn't happen. And to ensure your assets don't get caught up in probate court. They'll assist you with each of these concerns:
- Advance Directives
- Estate Administration & Probate
- Estate Planning
- Powers of Attorney
- Special Needs Trusts
- Will & Trust Litigation
What are the Benefits of an Estate Plan?
Contrary to popular opinion, estate plans aren't just for wealthy or retired people. More than ever, they are the right decision for anybody who has a family or a business or wants to be in control of personal health and wealth. And a life insurance policy is only one piece of the puzzle.
But according to Caring.com, only 42% of adults in the U.S. have estate planning documents. So if you are one of those individuals, here are some reasons to consider talking with an estate planning attorney.
Manage Your Needs
An estate plan isn't just for planning your death. For example, it protects you if you become incapacitated or incapable of making decisions for yourself.
Elect Estate Trustees
Estate planning simplifies the administration of your estate. For example, you can assign authority to an executor or trustee to save money and reduce the burden on your spouse.
Take Care of Your Family
Your state of residence typically decides the distribution of your assets after death with an estate plan. However, having appropriate documentation removes any question about how your estate gets dispersed.
The IRS places limits on how much money you can transfer without taxation. As a result, an estate plan can help minimize tax payments. Money transfer involves three different taxes – estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping transfer tax.
An Estate Attorney Helps Preserve Your Wealth
Estate planning can help preserve wealth by removing your name from assets and placing them into legally-protected vehicles like trusts or limited liability entities.
Our Doylestown and Norristown estate attorneys support your decision to be proactive in protecting your family's future. Our law firm can protect, preserve and manage your estate. We'll help you reach your goals, including:
- Safeguarding assets
- Planning for orderly business succession
- Minimizing inheritance taxes
- Ensuring the benefits of your hard work go to your family, not to the government.
An Estate Attorney Helps You Decide What Goes into Your Estate Plan
Whether your estate is modest or complex, estate planning requires some foundational items:
Wills & Trusts
A will or trust is a crucial component of your estate plan because it expresses your final wishes regarding your estate distribution. Your will takes effect when you die. However, a trust takes effect immediately and is generally used to set aside funds or property for a specific purpose.
Many people elect to create their will through web-based tools. But remember, the wording of your will is critical. You must craft it consistently to reflect how you've bequeathed assets and assigned beneficiaries. Otherwise, someone may contest the will. Often, it's still best to contact an estate and trust attorney or a will lawyer near you to eliminate chances for error.
Also known as living wills, advance directives for healthcare in Pennsylvania allow you to decide what type of healthcare you want should you become incapacitated. Advance directives also apply to establishing your life wishes regarding accepting, rejecting, or discontinuing medical treatment. In addition, you might also consider including a second agent if your primary agent is unavailable or unable to act on your behalf. Our estate attorneys can help you work through the process.
A living will also determine painful decisions about your care for your loved ones. You can learn more about advanced directives here. An estate attorney can draft an advanced directive, so you know your wishes remain intact.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney lets you appoint someone you trust to manage your financial or medical affairs should you be unable or unavailable to do so yourself. Without a POA, a court may decide what happens to your assets if it finds you mentally incompetent. However, its judgment may be contrary to your wishes. So make sure you talk with a POA attorney.
A POA gives legal authority to your agent to transact on your behalf and make legal decisions for you. With the pandemic impacting so many lives, it's important to consider appointing a power of attorney, even for your college-bound children.
If your will or trust fails to include a clause regarding guardianship of your children, selecting a guardian is essential but often overlooked. But independent of a guardianship designation, a court may rule that your children live with someone you may not have selected. Moreover, in extreme cases, the court could even rule your children become wards of the state. A guardianship attorney can protect your interests.
Estate Administration & Probate
Estate administration is the process of managing and distributing the deceased's assets. Generally, the estate administration and probate tasks fall to the executor or personal representative named in the will. But if there is no will, the court will designate an administrator. You can read more about your debt obligations here: What Happens to A Deceased Relative's Debt When They Die?
Probate is the specific manner by which your estate gets distributed to heirs through the legal system. In Pennsylvania, however, small estates can go through a simplified process.
Regular probate procedures are required if the estate has more than $25,000 worth. In either case, our estate planning attorneys can guide you through the executor or personal representative responsibilities, assuring that you meet deadlines and comply with your fiduciary duties.
Consult with an Estate Attorney Relating to Plan Disputes
When a will or trust is in dispute, families can be torn apart at the very time they should be pulling together. Our estate attorneys work to resolve those disputes to minimize financial and emotional distress. However, we provide vigorous advocacy for our clients. if litigation becomes necessary
Ready to Talk to an Estate Attorney Near You?
A well-crafted and regularly reviewed estate plan is the best gift you can give your loved ones. As an experienced and well-recognized law firm serving Bucks and Montgomery Counties, our estate attorneys can help you create a plan that works for you and helps you meet your goals.
Substantial estates are managed with care and foresight by our estate planning attorneys. They'll counsel you about preserving your estate for the future generation you're considering creating an estate plan. Please consult with one of our estate attorneys today. Our firm has offices in Doylestown, Norristown, PA, and Cherry Hill, NJ.