Estate Planning FAQs

April 6, 2020

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.

What Is Estate Planning?

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.

Are Estate Plans Only Recommended for Those with Significant Wealth?

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.

How Does a Will Work?

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.

Is a Trust Needed?

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.

What Are Types of Advance Directives?

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.

Do Estate Plans Cover Subjects Other Than Wills, Trusts, and Directives?

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.

Media Estate Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Ensure Their Clients’ Estate Plans Cover All Bases

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.