The topic of estate planning confuses many people. From understanding the definition of an estate plan to figuring out how an estate plan protects wealth, would-be clients often present our estate lawyers with wide-ranging questions during initial consultations.
Below are some of the more frequently asked questions regarding estate planning and how it affects individuals and their families.
Estate planning essentially provides an outlook of how a person’s assets will be handled upon the person’s incapacitation or death. For that reason, an estate plan frequently includes many complementary documents, such as wills, trusts, and advance directives. Each document covers an important area of the entire estate plan.
A common misconception about estate plans is that they only make sense when someone has amassed a fortune, such as a Hollywood star or a well-known business guru. In fact, estate planning can be applicable for almost anyone. Even an individual who owns a relatively small piece of land or has a single retirement account can benefit from professional estate planning.
Wills frequently garner a lot of attention on television shows and in popular books. However, wills do not need to be particularly complicated to protect and distribute a deceased person’s assets. A will outlines who receives the estate of a person who has died according to his or her wishes. Getting assistance from an attorney during the preparation of a will helps avoid problems later, such as having the will contested by other family members.
Along with a will, many people seeking advice from estate planning attorneys want to learn about trusts. A trust not only directs where funds should go after death, but it can also ensure that money does not get distributed immediately to specific parties.
In the case of a spendthrift child, for instance, a trust may outline that the child only receives small monthly payments over a period of years. This preserves the wealth instead of handing over a large lump sum to someone who may not be able to adequately steward a modest or large fortune.
Advance directives provide guidance if a person becomes incapacitated, which is a common occurrence for people as they age. Many individuals experience dementia or other mentally incapacitating conditions toward the end of their lives. An advance directive can outline the individual’s named health care proxy as well as who should be given power of attorney. An advance directive can even indicate how much lifesaving care he or she wants to receive in the event of an end-of-life medical emergency.
Since attorneys look at each individual’s unique situation to create a personalized estate plan, the estate plan may include documents beyond wills, trusts, and directives.
In fact, quite a few estate plans focus on tax planning considerations, such as buy-sell agreements, family limited partnerships, and guardianship items related to probate and inheritance tax filing. The best way for a person or couple to know how to proceed with an estate plan is to contact a local estate attorney to start the process.
Have you wondered whether you could benefit from estate planning advice to preserve your wealth after death? If so, contact one of our experienced Media estate layers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. today. To schedule a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 610-565-3701. From our offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.
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We want to assure everyone that during this unprecedented and difficult time, we are still operating and will continue to meet all the legal needs of the residents of the Delaware Valley. While the Governor’s recent orders have restricted the operations of some businesses, Eckell Sparks has deployed a variety of applications and hardware that allows both our attorneys and our support staff to confer with clients remotely, provide consultations to those seeking legal advice, and continue to provide the high level of legal services to our clients as we have always done. For more than 50 years, our Firm has been a force in the Delaware Valley legal community. And by now also leveraging technology, we will continue to do so both during, and after, the current public health emergency.
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