Is Estate Planning Important for Everyone?

Take it from us, estate planning is as important for the average person as it is for those who have accumulated a measure of wealth. Estate planning involves creating a comprehensive plan for the management and distribution of your assets after your death. This plan can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, and that your loved ones are taken care of after you're gone.

Here are some reasons why estate planning is important:

  1. Protecting your loved ones: Estate planning allows you to decide who receives your assets after your death. This helps make sure your loved ones are taken care of and that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
  2. Streamlining probate: Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone dies. Estate planning helps you streamline the probate process and minimize its impact on your estate.  We also have extensive experience guiding our clients through the probate administration process each step of the way to ensure the estate is administered correctly and as seamlessly as possible.
  3. Planning for incapacity: Estate planning also includes documents like a power of attorney or a living will, both of which can help ensure that your wishes are respected if you become incapacitated.
  4. Minimizing taxes: Proper estate planning allows you to minimize taxes on your estate, which can leave more money for your loved ones.

Regardless of a person’s age, it is extremely important to plan for death, serious illness, and incapacitation before it is too late to avoid any legal problems and burdens on your family members.

Our attorneys understand how sensitive these subjects are for you, and how difficult they are to consider. We have helped ease these burdens on many clients and their family members by offering counsel to plan for difficult times, including preparation of a Last Will and Testament, Medical Directive, and Power of Attorney.

Simply put, estate planning provides peace of mind and helps ensure that your legacy is protected.

Estate planning is the management and distribution of your assets both before and after your death. It involves creating legal documents such as a will, trust, power of attorney, and beneficiary designations to ensure that your assets are preserved and distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of.

The importance of estate planning lies in the fact that it can help prevent family disputes and legal challenges over your assets, ensure that your wishes are respected, and minimize taxes and other costs associated with the transfer of assets after your death. Estate planning can also help you plan for incapacity and ensure that your healthcare and financial decisions are carried out according to your wishes if you become unable to make them yourself.

Most importantly, this planning eliminates the unforeseen and significant expense of having the court appoint a guardian should you be unable to voice or make decisions during portions of your life.

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A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important documents you can create to help your family upon your death.

A Will provides guidance to your family on how your assets should be managed and distributed after your passing. Without a Will, Pennsylvania law dictates how the assets in your estate are managed and distributed, regardless of tax consequences. A Will allows you to select the individual who will administer your estate and who will receive those assets.

A Will also enables you to select a guardian for any minor children upon your death or establish a trust to manage your assets for a minor. Our attorneys devote great attention to drafting wills to appropriately distribute the client’s assets upon death in accordance with the client’s wishes. As part of the construction of the will, we ensure that provisions are included to keep estate tax liability to a minimum and the personal representative of the client’s estate is able to administer the estate and conclude the client’s affairs after death with ease and minimal difficulty.

Wills typically require the inclusion of trusts to govern distribution of assets upon your death to heirs who are minors and the use of those funds for the benefit of your heirs who are minors until they reach an age at which the heir can properly manage his or her own assets. Our attorneys establish these trusts in a manner that is most advantageous to the client and the minors and that meets the wishes of the client.

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Almost all Wills drafted by King Legal Group for parents of minor children contain a trust for the children.

A trust for your children is a legal arrangement where you transfer assets, such as money or property, into a trust, which is managed by a trustee of your choice. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage the trust assets for the benefit of your children, according to the terms of the trust that you establish.

A trust allows you to control how and when your children receive their inheritance. You can specify certain conditions that must be met, such as age or achievement of certain milestones, before the trustee distributes the assets.

We also establish trusts meant to benefit spouses so that the spouse bears the least possible tax burden. Such trusts are not limited to matters after death, but include inter-vivos trusts, also called Living Trusts, which are trusts created for use during the client’s lifetime. Living Trusts enable the client to manage his or her funds in a manner which avoids the expenses of probate and, in some circumstances, inheritance tax.

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The Power of Attorney (POA) is an important legal document in estate planning to appoint someone who you trust to manage your financial and medical affairs while you are alive, but unable to handle these decisions and tasks for yourself. It serves to assure that an individual's personal and financial affairs are managed according to their wishes, especially in situations where they are unable to make decisions themselves.

Firstly, a POA provides peace of mind by designating a trusted individual, known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, to handle important financial and legal decisions on behalf of the grantor. This is critical if the grantor becomes incapacitated due to illness or an accident. Without a POA, there could be significant legal hurdles for family members to access funds or make decisions, potentially leading to lengthy and costly court proceedings. The POA ensures that the individual's financial matters, such as paying bills, managing investments, and handling property transactions, can be managed smoothly, without disruption.

Secondly, beyond financial matters, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is essential for managing medical decisions. This allows the appointed agent to make crucial healthcare choices, aligning with the grantor’s values and wishes, in instances where they are unable to communicate their preferences. This type of POA can cover decisions about medical treatments, care facilities, and end-of-life care. Including a Healthcare Power of Attorney in estate planning ensures that an individual's health and well-being are in trusted hands, and their specific wishes are respected and followed.

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Our attorneys have also acted as personal representatives for the estates of decedents in Pennsylvania and in other states.

Such experience makes them familiar with the difficulties and decisions facing our clients who act as executors and administrators during estate administration. Although the personal representatives of estates are legally responsible for administering the estate, our attorneys advise, organize, and simplify estate matters for you from the start of estate administration to its conclusion.

Our attorneys also counsel personal representatives who find themselves in disputes over estate issues, and we strive to resolve these disputes amicably among all parties. At King Legal Group, we are sensitive to matters that can cause family disharmony, while offering a firm hand to see that the estate administration is concluded as envisioned by the decedent and as expressed in the Will.

As part of our services offered to estate representatives, all estate bookkeeping can be performed by the firm as well as tax return preparation on behalf of the decedent and representation of the estate in litigation if it arises during administration of the estate.

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Our attorneys are fully prepared to resolve estate matters in court if litigation becomes necessary to faithfully execute the wishes of the decedent.

Some of the more common lawsuits that must be filed on behalf of the estate involve actions to recover assets that have been misappropriated by persons or beneficiaries, especially while the client was in a weakened mental state or unable to resist the directions of those closest to the client just before death.

Lawsuits have also been necessary to contest or protect the Will and the wishes of the client when other people attack the contents of the Will to obtain a distribution not included in the Will.

Our attorneys have also represented many beneficiaries of estates in lawsuits against estate representatives who misappropriate estate assets or fail to protect those assets, which should be distributed to the beneficiaries under the terms of the Will.

Our attorneys are fully prepared to enforce the wishes of the decedent and protect estate assets when litigation is necessary during the administration of the estate.

Call us today at 724-836-1500.

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