What Should I Know About Planning My Estate?

April 7, 2021

It can be difficult to think about planning an estate. However, people should have plans in place for what happens after their passing. There are no guarantees survivors will have say over the distribution of assets without a will. There are some major considerations for estate planning. Situations will vary, but below are some common questions and dilemmas.

When Should I Update My Will?

Most people with children and valued assets, like real estate or securities, should have a will. Yet, only 32 percent of people have a will, according to the 2020 Estate Planning and Wills Study. It is important to create a plan for the distribution of property and the care for survivors when a person passes away. Otherwise, estates go through the expensive process of probate court with no guarantee of retaining control.

Wills can name guardians to minor children and one power of attorney or multiple to handle different matters. With assets and memories on social media and other digital platforms, it is also essential to provide some process on accessing accounts with passwords online. Once the will is created, it should be updated consistently to reflect changing scenarios, like the buying or selling of a home, marriages, grandchildren, or divorce.

Along with a traditional will should be a living will with instructions for care if the person becomes incapacitated. This is important for those with families living far away who may be unable to support medical responders or hospital staff immediately.

When Should Trusts be Established?

Trusts are one of the best ways to distribute assets following someone’s death. An irrevocable trust protects these assets from some taxation and public probate. Trusts can also pay out inheritances over time and instruct for the division of properties.

Trusts can help one prepare for certain scenarios. If a husband dies, he can allocate a portion of the estate for potential long-term care for his widow and leave the remainder to their surviving children. Some bank accounts and other assets will automatically change hands when the holder dies, so one should be aware of these changes as well.

Tax planning should be a factor in estate planning too. Federal and state thresholds will vary, but anything that is due must be paid nine months following a death. This may cause panic if not planned correctly. For help with estate planning, one should speak to an estate lawyer.

Media Estate Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Clients with Essential Estate Planning

People often underestimate all the work needed to properly prepare an estate. It can help immensely to partner with a legal expert. A Media estate lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. can walk you through the process of creating a will, establishing trusts, and answer all questions that come along the way. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.