Your Local Estate Attorney
At David K. Lucas & Associates, we concentrate our practice in Estate
Planning, Domestic Relations, and Probate law. When it comes to family law,
you know you're in good hands with experienced attorneys who care about you.
With offices in Greensburg and Delmont, PA, we're close to home and ready to help.
Every One Needs Estate Planning Documents
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. Read more on our page regarding Trusts for Minors.
- 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.
The Cost of an Estate Plan
The costs of an estate plan are dependent upon what type of documents are
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 or call our office at 724-835-8440.
At David K. Lucas & Associates there is no charge for the initial estate planning meeting.
Whether you should have a living trust 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. Visit our page on Living Trusts to learn more.
Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax
To learn more about Pennsylvania's inheritance tax, please visit the special page we have prepared on Inheritance Taxes in PA.
Minor Children as Beneficiaries
It is NOT a good idea to name your minor children as beneficiaries on
your life insurance.
However, it is important for young parents to have the proper estate planning documents prepared as soon as they have a child. Please visit our page on Minor Children to learn more.
Putting Your Home in Your Children's Names
As with adding your children as beneficiaries on your life insurance,
putting your home in your children's name is probably not a good idea.
Unfortunately, this is an action that is taken by a large number of people, people who 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. For more information, please visit our page on the Transfer of Home to Children.
Appointing a Guardian of Minor Children
Problems occur when parents fail to have a will that designates a
"Guardian of the Person" for their 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.
Estate Planning and Blended Families
As Estate Planning Attorneys, it is common for us to have to address
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. Visit our specially prepared page on Estate Planning for Blended Families.
Beneficiary Designations Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts
Beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement accounts govern
how that asset will be distributed upon death. Unfortunately, your Will does
not pertain to these assets; they are called "Non-Probate Assets." Visit our
page on Beneficiary Designations
to learn more.
For a free telephone consultation with our estate planning lawyers, contact us today at 724-835-8440 or visit our Consultations page.