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.

Continue reading “Estate Planning Considerations for Your Digital Assets”

What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Law

What is personal injury law?

Every member of our community has a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent harming others.  When we fail to exercise reasonable care (e.g. choosing to send text messages while driving) and as a result, another person is injured, the person who failed to exercise reasonable care is responsible for the harm caused.  Personal injury or “tort” law exists to enable those who have been hurt to seek compensation for their financial losses and pain and suffering from the persons or companies responsible for the injuries.

The object of Pennsylvania’s tort law is to modify behavior by imposing the financial risk on the party in the best position to prevent the harm. Personal injury / tort claims are part of the civil justice system, which basically means that personal injury cases are separate from any related criminal cases, and only deal with harms and losses or injuries to person or property.

Seeking compensation through personal injury law means more than just filing a lawsuit. The legal rules and the knowledge of attorneys experienced with injury law also shape the investigation of the claims and the process of settlement negotiations.

Continue reading “What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Law”

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.

Continue reading “Tips For Crafting Your Last Will & Testament in Pennsylvania”

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.

Continue reading “Advance Directives and Living Wills: What’s the Difference?”

More on Trusts: Are They Right For Me?

Your Complete Guide to Estate Planning – CHAPTER 3

In discussing essential documents in Chapter 1 of our Complete Guide to Estate Planning, we took a brief look at trusts and gave some basic information about how these arrangements can be confusing or problematic. There are a vast number of different types of trusts, and unfortunately, they are often marketed and sold to individuals who do not actually need them to accomplish their estate planning goals.

Today’s post digs a little deeper into what distinguishes a few of the different types of trusts from one another so you can begin to understand whether you might want to include a trust in your unique estate plan to account for a specific financial goal. One word of caution, however—setting up trusts is not something you should attempt without guidance from a seasoned estate planning attorney. Taking a DIY approach to estate planning, and especially to establishing trusts, will likely create problems for your loved ones later, and can also easily result in greater ongoing tax expenses for the rest of your life.

Continue reading “More on Trusts: Are They Right For Me?”