Estate Planning FAQ: What are Tenants in Common?

When it comes to estate planning, there are many legal terms involved that can cause confusion. If you are attempting to take a DIY approach without help from an experienced probates and estates attorney, you’re likely going to have a lot of questions.

The term “tenants in common,” as well as the term “joint tenancy”—both of which refer to ways real estate property ownership may be structured—are two that often raise questions for those outside the legal world. That’s why we’re dedicating today’s blog post to explaining this terminology in a little more detail. Both ownership structures have benefits and drawbacks, and they affect how property is transferred to heirs.

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Don’t Forget the Tax Man During Pennsylvania Estate Administration

As the executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate, your fiduciary relationship to the estate places a lot of responsibility squarely on your shoulders. An executor must make critical decisions for the estate and the beneficiaries in keeping with the law. Filing paperwork in a timely fashion and fulfilling financial and legal obligations are the name of the game when it comes to estate administration, and this includes timely tax filings and payments.

Don’t forget the tax man. Between death taxes on asset values and fiduciary income taxes on the estate’s income, your head might be spinning. There are filing deadlines and tax payments that must be made, and failure to meet these deadlines can be costly, opening up the executor or administrator to penalties and interest.

Today’s post gives you some insight into making sure you are considering all the tax work as you are following the probate process and administering the estate. We want you to realize that you do not have to go it alone.

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What is Probate When It Comes to Estate Planning

Your Complete Guide to Estate Planning – CHAPTER 7

As we’ve established throughout earlier chapters in our Complete Guide to Estate Planning, the prospect of probating a friend or family member’s estate can be scary.

There are many steps involved in opening probate, determining whether you’ll be required to undertake the formal process (versus Pennsylvania’s simplified probate process for estates with assets totaling less than $50,000), and then moving through the appropriate version of the process itself.

Very complex estates may remain in probate for years. And while the good news is that these situations tend to be few and far between, taking a DIY approach to probating an estate of any size is not often a good idea. You can save yourself frustration and time by consulting with an experienced probate and estates attorney.

Our previous blog post outlining the phases of probate in Pennsylvania—and what you can expect as you move through this legal process—is a must-read if you’ve recently been placed in a fiduciary role as a personal representative for a friend or family member’s estate.

But how do you make even a lengthy probate process as painless as possible? Today’s post offers a few important steps you can take to survive probate with minimal frustration.

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Estate Planning Considerations for Your Digital Assets

Your Complete Guide to Estate Planning – CHAPTER 6

As the digital age advances and more elements of our lives move online, a trending question in modern estate planning is how to manage an individual’s intangible, electronic assets like their web presence and contents of various online accounts once they have passed away.

It’s true that some of these so-called digital assets can pass through your last will to your family members and other heirs, but there are many more that you don’t actually own the rights to. Yet, these other types of accounts still often need to be handled in some way—archived, deactivated, deleted—so that data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Today’s post highlights a few things you need to think about your digital life as you work through the entire estate planning process covered in our ongoing blog series, Your Complete Guide to Estate Planning.

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Tips For Crafting Your Last Will & Testament in Pennsylvania

Your Complete Guide to Estate Planning – CHAPTER 5

Though drafting your last will—the central document in estate planning—here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may seem complicated at first, our home state actually has few solid requirements for what a will must look like. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should scribble yours on a bar napkin and sign it with a purple marker you found.

Your goal should be to create a clear and unquestionably valid document that allows your loved ones to administrate your estate with ease after you’re gone—your will is essentially a gift to your friends and family in this way. And working with an experienced probate and estates attorney on all of your estate planning matters is the best way to accomplish that goal.

This chapter in our Complete Guide to Estate Planning offers a few tips that will help you write and maintain (that’s right—this document is not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing) a solid last will and testament that accomplishes your wishes while avoiding common pitfalls.

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Advance Directives and Living Wills: What’s the Difference?

Your Complete Guide to Estate Planning – CHAPTER 4

Have you been following our ongoing estate planning post series here on the blog in recent months? If so, you’ve likely noticed that much of estate planning has to do with establishing legally valid documentation that conveys your end-of-life wishes regarding your assets and property.

Did you know that there is also specific estate planning documentation that deals with your personal health and physical body? You may have heard of these advance directives, but likely have many questions. Today’s post focuses on healthcare decision-making at times when a person cannot express their wishes, how their wishes are properly documented, and why you should seriously consider establishing these instructions as part of your unique estate plan.

This may sound relatively simple, and you’ll find that do-it-yourself forms are widely available online—after all, what’s a little bit of paperwork? However, there are many different points to consider, and even modest estates can benefit from strategizing with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that the right documents are prepared in the right way to accomplish your goals and support your loved ones.

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