"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
- Benjamin Franklin
Estate Planning Attorneys
While no one wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps our clients can take to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their assets. Proper estate planning can also spare your family from the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled. Estate planning has a lasting effect on you and your family. What you do now affects what they may have after you die.
Estate planning involves judgment and skills acquired only through professional training and experience. The only way to be certain that your specific needs and desires in estate planning are being met is by consulting a knowledgeable lawyer. High-pressure sales by mail or in person and do-it-yourself kits should be viewed with skepticism. Standardized Wills and trusts, such those produced using kits or computer software may not be drafted to comply with Pennsylvania laws. A Will or trust that is not properly drafted could result in your estate being distributed in a manner contrary to your wishes. Your family also may incur unnecessary legal costs should the Will or trust be challenged.
At Daly & Clemente, we represent individuals, families and caregivers by providing a variety of estate planning services. We provide personalized legal advice in an effort to understand and fulfill your specific needs and wishes.
Would you like to speak with an attorney regarding our estate planning services? Contact a Philadelphia area estate planning lawyer at Daly & Clemente, to arrange for your consultation.
WHY DO I NEED A WILL?
A Will is a legal document that helps you put your affairs in order when you die. Every adult should have a Will to outline his or her intentions regarding the home, finances, and other assets and possessions
Your Will should identify who will handle your estate, how your assets will be divided, and who will serve as guardian for your minor children.
If you die without a Will, your money and possessions will be distributed according to a formula fixed by law, which means that your spouse may have to share assets with other family members not of your choosing.
It also could create lengthy delays in the final distribution of assets.
Additionally, dying without a Will could result in your minor children being placed in the care of a court-appointed guardian rather than with the people you would have chosen to care for them.
Do I need a Living Trust ?
SOME COMMON MYTHS SURROUNDING LIVING TRUSTS
“If I have a ‘Living Trust’” ...
... I do not need a Will.
—FALSE — even if a “Living Trust” is right for you, you still should have a Will. If some of your property is left out of the trust, or if any portion of the trust is invalid, a Will can ensure your assets are transferred consistent with your wishes.
... My estate will not pay attorney's fee.
— FALSE — because transferring assets under a “Living Trust” will require accumulating assets and distributing them (and since taxes may be due), it is usually necessary to hire a lawyer to help administer the “Living Trust” after death. In addition, there are legal fees associated with preparing the trust document.
...The assets will not be considered mine if I need to go to a nursing home.
— FALSE — Because “Living Trusts” usually are revocable (meaning you can alter them during your lifetime), they will be considered your assets if you apply for nursing home benefits.
...My estate will not pay inheritance or estate taxes since my estate won’t need to “go through probate.”
— FALSE — generally speaking, any transfer of assets as a result of death will result in inheritance and possibly estate taxes being due. Thus, in most cases, property passing by a “Living Trust” will be subject to tax. Certain trusts, referred to as irrevocable trusts, may have tax advantages that other trusts can’t provide.
... My assets automatically will be part of it and my Will will not have to be probated.
— FALSE — Only property that you specifically list as part of the trust will be part of it. If you own property individually and don’t include it in the trust, your Will still must be probated.
WHAT IS A TRUST?
A trust is a legal entity to which your assets (bank accounts, securities, house, etc.) can be transferred for management by a Trustee. Trusts can be created while you are living to manage your assets while you are alive or to help your heirs manage their inheritance after your death. There are a number of types of trusts, each with its own set of benefits. As such, trusts can be complicated, so it is important that you contact a lawyer to make sure that you understand all of the issues about trusts.
One form of trust is a “Living Trust.” Be aware that although a “Living
Trust” could be right for you, you should review any trust with a lawyer experienced in estate planning before making a commitment. Trusts can ensure flexibility in your asset management and may have tax benefits, but you should be sure that you really need one and that it fits your needs.
“Living Trusts” – Unfortunately, some “Living Trusts” are marketed to senior citizens through high-pressure sales pitches that prey on the fear that assets will be tied up indefinitely or that estates are prone to heavy taxes and fees if a “Living Trust” is not in place. These marketing schemes try to convince consumers that a “Living Trust” is right for them even though many of the complex rules and fees that can complicate estate distribution do not exist in Pennsylvania. Victims can be sold self-help “kits,” costing several thousand dollars that are nothing more than standard forms that may not be valid under state law.
WHAT IF I CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT
THE CONTENTS OF MY WILL?
In Pennsylvania, a Will is not filed (or probated) until after a person dies. As a result, you can change or update your Will at any time throughout your life, as circumstances require.
ISN'T IT EXPENSIVE TO
HAVE A WILL PREPARED?
There is no set price attached to the preparation of a Will. The fee to prepare a Will that addresses your specific needs will depend upon the complexity of your situation and intentions. Most lawyers offer an initial consultation through which they are able to review your needs and then estimate the cost for your Will.