Planning for your future can be difficult. It requires careful planning and making hard decisions. Who will pay your bills if you become disabled? Who will care for your children after you pass away? Who will be the benefactor of your life insurance and estate? Remember, if you don’t make these decisions, the state of Pennsylvania will.
But one decision that shouldn’t be difficult is choosing an estate planning attorney to guide you through the process. The Pennsylvania estate planning attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli understand how hard it is to make these decisions. We will walk you through each step so you feel at peace, knowing your family is taken care of after you are gone.
Estate planning is making arrangements for what will happen once you are gone. Not only do you plan out who should get what, but you can also choose who will administer your estate, plan for health care directives, make final arrangements, and protect your business.
It involves various aspects of the law, such as:
- Wills: A will is a legal document that explains the division of property, guardian of your children and/or pets, trust creation, and other important issues. Consider this as a plan for what happens when you are gone.
- Trusts: There are many different types of trusts for different purposes; for example, a living trust which allows you to pass your inheritance to your loved ones without the headache of going through probate court.
- Power of Attorney: Power of attorney is when you appoint someone to act in place of you for either financial or healthcare purposes if you ever become incapacitated. For example, if you get into a car accident that leaves you in a coma, the power of attorney can make decisions on your behalf.
- Advance Healthcare Directive: Also known as a living will, this legal document specifies what actions should be taken if you are unable to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. Using the scenario above, if you have a directive, it will state what you want to happen if you stop breathing.
- Business Succession Planning: If you own a business, you need to figure out what happens to it after you pass away. This means creating a plan that explains what should happen to your shares of the business, how it will be funded, and other important matters.
- Inheritance Taxes: In addition, you can help minimize any taxes, court costs, or other legal fees by setting aside these finances.
It’s important to note that you should revisit your will on a regular basis, especially if there are any major life events in your life.
According to a recent article in AARP, 60 percent of Americans don't have either a will or living trust. The top two reasons why many have yet to complete any estate planning is because they either "hadn't gotten around to it" or "don't have enough assets to leave anyone."
But it is important to make these decisions now, if not to protect your own assets, but to protect your loved ones. By creating an estate plan, you're preventing the following from happening:
- Your assets going to the wrong beneficiaries. For example, let's say you promised your grand niece that she could have your wedding china after you are gone. However you never created a will and when you die, the china is sold at auction.
- Your children's future becomes uncertain. If you have small children, you have to figure out guardianship matters. You may also want to consider setting up a trust for their futures. If a plan is not put in place, the courts will come in and decide for you.
- Your heirs pay too much in taxes. It can be quite expensive if someone dies without a will. There are estate taxes, court fees, and funeral expenses your loved ones will have to deal with. But by planning for the future, you can protect your loved one's inheritance.
- Your healthcare choices are ignored. We don't like to think about becoming incapacitated or become too ill to make our own decisions. But by ignoring these directives, you're leaving these choices to your loved ones. They may think they know what's best for you but you may not feel the same.