Trusts and Estates

Hiring an Attorney to Create an Estate Plan

Although no one wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is important for protecting yourself and your loved ones.  Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also spare your loved ones of the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.

Estate planning involves judgment and skills gained only through professional training and experience.  Wills and trusts produced by using kits or software from home may not comply with Pennsylvania State Laws.  If not properly drafted, your estate may not be distributed according to your wishes.  Also, your family may incur legal costs should the Will or trust be challenged.  In consulting a knowledgeable lawyer, you can be sure your estate planning needs and desires are being met.


Benefits of an Estate Plan

There are many benefits in establishing an estate plan.  One such benefit is providing for incapacity.  If you become incapacitated, you will not be capable of managing your own financial affairs.  In order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court to declare you legally incapacitated, causing added stress on your family members.  A will does not take effect until your death and a power of attorney may be insufficient.  Additionally, a medical care plan should be established.  The law allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself.  One such method is by using a durable power of attorney.

Another benefit is that you can avoid probate with an estate plan.  If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, your property will pass through probate, a process which can be expensive, time consuming and public.  If you are married with children, you will want to be sure your family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being settled.  Probate courts can freeze assets for long periods of time while determining the distribution of your estate.

If you have minor children, it is important that your estate plan addresses issues regarding their upbringing.  A contingency plan should be put into place for those you would like to manage your assets as well as the guardian you would nominate for the upbringing of your children.  The trustee in charge of the finances does not need to be the same person as the guardian.  If an estate plan isn’t put into place, these decisions will be left to a court of law.