Many people don’t want to think about their end-of-life affairs, but if they don’t plan carefully, they may leave their families out in the cold—or with a dilemma on how to handle their estate. Hiring the right estate planning attorney can help you decide how to transfer your assets while minimizing complications and simplifying or eliminating the payment of death taxes for your loved ones and surviving family members. A well designed estate plan benefits everyone, not just “the wealthy.” Meeting with an attorney and establishing an estate plan makes the process easier, especially if you anticipate health issues or you have a lot of valuable possessions and assets.
To successfully map out your estate plan, you should find an experienced estate planning attorney who can educate you on all the options, while also helping you avoid legal pitfalls. We’ll briefly outline some different estate planning options below so you can familiarize yourself with avenues you may want to consider. Continue reading “Estate Planning: What You Need to Know”
Nightmare #1: You’re happily remarried and have established a fine life with your new spouse, then die unexpectedly and your life insurance policy pays out—to your ex-wife.
Nightmare #2: Your grandchild develops a debilitating illness and now has to rely on disability payments and Medicaid to supply his needs. Upon your death, one of your life insurance policies is paid to him—and he loses all government assistance.
Nightmare #3: Most of your assets are in a sizeable IRA, which you are counting on to support your spouse should you pass away. Upon your death, the IRA is paid out to your estate and is not only divided up among all the residuary beneficiaries in your will, but must also be paid out—and taxed—within five years of your death instead of providing for your spouse for the rest of her life.
Continue reading “Incorrect Beneficiary Designations Will Frustrate Your Estate Plan”
Sued for custody of your child by someone other than the your child’s other parent? Beware! Under Pennsylvania Law a person other than a parent has standing to sue for custody in very limited circumstances. Standing is a legal concept. Standing refers to the right of a particular person to file a case in court. If you don’t challenge standing in time you forfeit the right to challenge standing forever! Continue reading “Challenge to “In Loco Parentis Standing” – Use it or Lose It!”
For parents, a key component of estate planning is often selecting potential guardians for minor children should something tragic happen to one or both parents. These considerations can be double-sided emotionally and difficult to face. On the one hand, who would ever take care of your children just like you would? Facing such a decision also brings to light many fears and concerns. On the other hand, making the decision can be freeing in a way, because you know your children will be cared for if something happens.
Our firm understands the struggle that parents might face when dealing with such a decision, and we also understand the concerns that a potential guardian faces if the actual appointed time comes to pass. Many people agree to be named as legal guardians without ever really thinking the situation will occur where they will have to take charge of the children. That doesn’t mean they don’t love the kids or want this responsibility, but when the time comes, a guardian can be suddenly overwhelmed with the reality of the responsibility. Continue reading “Help for Potential Guardians of Minor Children”
If you are in a fiduciary relationship as an executor of an estate or a trustee of a trust, then you have to think about the wishes and needs of others. A fiduciary must make decisions that are in keeping with the law, the wishes of the deceased and the needs of the beneficiary. But you have to be careful not to forget other obligations, including taxes.
Many estates don’t pass the threshold for the federal estate tax, so you might think taxes aren’t a common concern for those in such positions. Just because you don’t have to worry about paying estate taxes doesn’t mean you don’t have to file any paperwork, though, and almost any estate will have to concern itself with at least one more income tax return.
Continue reading “Don’t Forget the Tax Man”
If you believe you are a legal heir to someone’s estate, but that person has died without estate planning documents such as a will, you might not know what steps to take to claim your inheritance. The requirements for receiving assets or money that are left to you in such an estate depend on the laws of the state, whether there are other potential heirs and whether any assets are linked to beneficiary designations.
When someone dies without leaving a will or other estate documents, then the person is considered to have died intestate. Basically, that’s just a term for “without a will,” and intestacy estates are probated under the general laws of the state in question. Intestacy laws usually ensure that primary heirs, such as surviving spouses or children of the deceased, receive an inheritance under the estate. Depending on the situation, other family members such as step-children, grandchildren and siblings might also inherit something from an intestate process — especially if no other closer heirs are found.
Continue reading “What do You do if Your Loved One Died Without a Will?”