Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Will?
In Pennsylvania, if a person passes away without a Will and has assets that are individually owned without a beneficiary designation, the State of Pennsylvania dictates how those assets will be distributed. This method of distribution is known as intestate succession. Additionally, when a person passes away without a Will the Court is required, upon application, to appoint an administrator. The administrator would be the person in charge of gathering all assets and distributing them in accordance with the intestate succession laws. For these reasons, it is very important that every person has a Will.
The type of Will that you need is dependent upon your circumstances. For example, if you have young children, you are not permitted to distribute money via a Will directly to them. It is normally recommended that a trust account be established for purposes of holding, investing and distributing this money to a minor child. Trust provisions can also be recommended as a tax saving mechanism. Clients with larger estates need to make certain that they address federal estate tax.
Every person in Pennsylvania should have a Will so as to dictate who will be in charge of your estate and to provide instruction as to the distribution of assets.
What are the costs of putting together an estate plan?
The costs of an estate plan are dependent upon what type of documents are needed. A Will, without any trust provisions generally costs less than $150.00 to prepare and have executed. Young Parent Wills, which would include trusts for minor children, generally are less than $225.00.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to do tax planning within your Will. These types of Wills generally involve more effort and range in cost from $300 to $1,000.
It is also recommended that an estate plan include a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is simply a document whereby you appoint somebody to be in charge of your financial affairs in the event that you are physically or mentally unable to manage the same. If you do not have a Power of Attorney the Court of Common Pleas will appoint a guardian to undertake these actions. This appointment of a guardian can be very costly and quite burdensome on the guardian. The cost of a Power of Attorney are far less than the costs of a guardianship.
If you have any questions concerning these documents, please feel free to contact us by phone or email. At David K. Lucas & Associates there is no charge for the initial estate planning meeting.
Should I have a Living Trust?
It depends on many factors. Over the last twenty years, Living Trusts have become much more popular as an Estate Planning tool. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation about Living Trusts and they are certainly not for everyone. Please click here to read more about Living Trusts.
What is Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax and do I have to pay it?
Please click here to read about Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax.
Do I need to make special arrangements in my Will if I have young children?
Yes. It is surprising to me as an Estate Planning Attorney how many young parents do not have the proper estate planning documents. Please click here to read more.
Should I name my minor children as beneficiary on my life insurance?
No. It is surprising to me as an Estate Planning Attorney how many young parents do not have the proper estate planning documents. Regardless of the amount of assets it becomes very important to have a proper estate plan as soon as you have a child. Please click here to read more.
Should I put my home into my children names?
Probably not. This is an action that is taken by a large number of people. Unfortunately, most people that undertake this action do not fully understand the consequences of either putting their children's name on the deed with them or, in the alternative, deeding the home to the children. If such an action is going to be taken, it is very important that you understand both the risks and the consequences of making such a transfer. Please click here to read more.
Should I appoint someone to be in charge of my minor children if I pass?
Yes. It is surprising to me as an Estate Planning Attorney how many young parents do not have the proper estate planning documents. Regardless of the amount of assets it becomes very important to have a proper estate plan as soon as you have a child. The failure to have a proper estate plan can cause many different problems for the minor child and surviving family members. One such problem relates to issues caused when parents fail to have a will that designates a "Guardian of the Person" for the minor children.
In Pennsylvania, the law provides that a parent may designate a guardian of the person in their Last Will and Testament. What this means is that a parent is permitted to designate somebody to be physically in charge of the minor children in the event of their passing. If a parent fails to make a Last Will and Testament which designates the guardian of the person, the Court will decide who takes physical custody of the minor children. In order to avoid litigation on this matter it is very important to designate a guardian of the person for their minor children. This problem can be avoided by simply making certain that in your Last Will and Testament you designate a guardian of the person to take physical custody of the minor children. It is also recommended that you name a successor guardian of the person in the event that your primary guardian would become unwilling or unable to care for the minor children.
What options do I have with my Estate Planning if I have a blended family?
As an Estate Planning Attorney it is common for us to have to address the issues that arise when dealing with blended families. Blended families have unique circumstances that require careful thought, consideration and planning. For these reasons it becomes very important to contact an experienced estate planning lawyer. Click here to read more.
If I have a Will do I need beneficiary designations on my life insurance and retirement accounts?
Yes. Beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts govern how that asset will be distributed upon death. The Will does not pertain to these assets; they are called "Non-Probate Assets". Click here to read more.
For a free telephone consultation with our estate planning lawyers, contact us at 888-728-9026.