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When do You Need to Change Your Estate Plan?

If you have a will, trust and other estate planning documents, you’re better off than most people, even those in the latter half of their lives. However, it’s essential to remember that this is rarely a “one-and-done” process. It’s always best to have an estate plan in place sooner rather than later. However, don’t forget that you will likely need to make some revisions as things happen throughout your life and the lives of your loved ones, as they do for all of us.

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What We Can all Learn from David Bowie’s Estate Planning

Music stars are not generally known for their financial acumen or their estate planning. The families of music icons including Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur have gone through nasty estate battles because these men failed to do adequate, if any, estate planning. The same cannot be said for music legend David Bowie, who recently died from liver cancer just days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final album.

Bowie admitted that he was not always wise in dealing with the considerable amount of money that he earned. In fact, in the 1970s and 1980s, he was reportedly near bankruptcy. However, that seems to have changed in the early 1990s after he married former supermodel Iman and moved to New York.

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Help Ensure Your Pets Are Cared For When You’re Gone

Too many pets end up in shelters every year because their guardians died unexpectedly, leaving them with no one to care for them. In many cases, people assume that their family or friends will take care of their animals after they’re gone or maybe they even agree to do so. However, for a number of reasons, that doesn’t always work out — again leaving animals dumped into shelters.

This is why pet trusts have grown in popularity. In fact, 40 states, including Pennsylvania, have pet trust laws in place. Many estate planning attorneys have experience helping their clients include language in their estate planning documents to specify whom you want to care for your animals after you’re gone and how much money you want to go to your designated pet caregiver to help with the cost of caring for them.

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The Importance of Health Care Directives and Living Wills

When many Pennsylvanians seek the services of an estate planning attorney, they intend only to get a will and possibly a trust in place. They want to designate who will get their assets when they are gone.

Those documents are a great start to your estate planning. However, experienced estate planning attorneys tell their clients that they also need a living will and an advance directive for health care declaration, known in some places as a healthcare power of attorney.

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Heirs Fight for Artwork They Say Was Stolen by Nazis

Most people who seek possession of a loved one’s assets after a death are dealing with homes, furniture, jewelry and other valuables. However, for two men, one of whom lives in Pennsylvania, the assets in question are paintings that they say were stolen by the Nazis.

The man who originally owned the artwork, valued at $5 million, had been a cabaret performer in Vienna, Austria. He died in 1941 in the Dachau concentration camp where he was a prisoner.

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Tips for Talking With Your Family About Your Estate

Many people dread having the estate planning talk with their family. However, this talk involves important topics like what you plan to leave them in your will, who will succeed you in the family business and who will inherit the family home.

The holiday season can actually be one of the best times to have these discussions. If the family is scattered throughout the country, this may be one of the rare occasions when you’re all together. The estate planning talk certainly shouldn’t be the focus of your holiday gathering, but it’s worth taking a bit of time out to take care of it so that everyone is on the same page.

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