Estate Planning and Estate Administration
Wills, Power of Attorney, and Trusts
Many end-of-life issues can be stressful. Friends and families can become uncomfortable talking about life after you’ve gone. That’s why planning your will, trust, business succession, and end-of-life health care considerations often become a solitary activity. But you don’t have to handle it alone. The legal team at Going and Plank provides caring, compassionate guidance to individuals and families to create last wills and testaments, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, business successions, probate and estate administration. Our law offices provide a low-stress environment staffed with experienced legal experts that are here to help you calmly develop estate plans to address inheritances, taxes, health care issues, and business succession.
Your Last Will and Testament
Smart, cost-effective estate planning can lower taxes and other estate and probate costs. An estate lawyer at Going and Plank can work with you to create a legal document that clearly expresses your last wishes. A will states how your estate (i.e., the things you own) is distributed and divided and assigns the role of executor, a person in charge of the administrative duties.
Creating a clear, valid will requires thought on your part, but it’s easier if you’re assisted by an experienced estate lawyer from Going and Plank. We know which questions to ask and provide suggestions on cost-effective estate planning. We can help you address problematic family issues, and ensure that your wishes are recorded and witnessed in a way that avoids unnecessary costs, conflict and challenges.
An estate attorney from Going and Plank can also help you think through the issues surrounding the guardianship of your dependents. We'll help you plan how long a guardianship should be in place until your assets are dispersed in full to your heirs. Click here to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate lawyer.
Writing a living will with an advance health care directive relieves your family from making difficult decisions in times of emotional stress. A living will authorizes the disconnection of life-sustaining measures when you are determined to be in a state of permanent unconsciousness with no chance of survival.
Power of Attorney
The power of attorney (POA) document identifies the person or persons (ideally at least two) you authorize to act on your behalf while you are still living, but unable to take care of things for yourself. An example would be a coma patient, This POA document would authorize the agent to pay bills, make medical decisions, and do anything else for you that you are unable to do for yourself.
If a person does not have the mental capacity to complete a power of attorney, then the only way to authorize another to act is to obtain a court order appointing a guardian. For this, a petition is filed and a hearing is held where petitioners and the treating physician will testify and will provide his or her opinion of the person’s incapacity.
Trusts are most often created to avoid taxes. They can be very tax advantageous if your assets qualify your estate to incur federal estate tax (as of June 2018, any assets over $11.2 million.) Estates with lower values may need to carefully consider the expense of creating trusts. Most Pennsylvania estates do not qualify for these kinds of trusts, and estates without trusts are usually easier to administer.
Testamentary trusts are simply trusts that are in a will. They allow you to designate a person or firm as trustee, who is responsible to distribute the inheritance pursuant to the terms specified in the will.
If you have minors, (under the age of 21 for the purpose of inheritance) as beneficiaries in your will, a trustee can be responsible for any inheritance until the minor reaches the age of 21 or later as you so designate. You can also specify which powers the trustee has while the inheritance is in his/her or its custody. Typically, the trustee is responsible to invest the inheritance and use the money for the minor’s needs. In effect, the trustee acts as a parent until any remaining principal can be given to the beneficiary once he or she reaches 21 or any other age that is designated in the trust.
Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust can be set up for persons with special needs so that they are not disqualified from receiving the assistance that they may require by inheriting a lump sum.
Estate Administration Services
The process of managing and distributing the assets of someone who passed away is called probate. The person managing the process is called the executor. Probate of the will can be a complicated process filled with time-sensitive procedures such as paying inheritance taxes and notifying creditors. If you are the executor of the will, the legal team at Going and Plank can help you complete a variety of estate administration duties, including:
- Marshaling of estate assets
- Determination and settlement of estate debts
- Preparation of relevant tax returns
- Preparation of status reports, notices, and inventories
- Distribution of assets
- Preparation of first and final accounts
Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage the probate of the will efficiently and effectively.