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People work hard to build their estates. Naturally, they want to protect them and see that they pass on appropriately. Creating strategies to ensure that assets move easily to the next generation can be complex, as can the processes of probate and estate administration. At Begley, Carlin & Mandio, LLP, our lawyers can guide the way.
When they think of estate planning, most people think of wills. Wills are certainly valuable and time-tested tools for ensuring that assets pass onto the next generation. However, there are limits to what a will can accomplish. Our attorneys want to make certain that your estate plan does everything you want it to do. We may recommend other tools to achieve your goals.
Trusts can be used to address more unique situations or more complex goals. Trusts come in many varieties and can be carefully tailored to the needs of you and your family. They often serve as powerful supplements to wills.
Estate planning is not just about passing on assets. It can also address things like end of life care. Powers of attorney and living wills, which are not the same as wills, can be used to address how you wish to be treated in the event of incapacity.
After the loss of a loved one, families will be left with a great deal of work to do. This work comes at a time when people want to mourn their loss and celebrate the life of the deceased. Our attorneys are committed to handling the legal matters on behalf of families. Whether your loved one left a will or died intestate, we can take steps to see that his or her wishes are followed. We can assist executors and estate administrators. We can also step in to address estate disputes when a conflict arises over how an estate is being handled.
When should an estate plan be updated?
If you already have an estate plan in place, you may feel that you have everything ready for your loved ones and the legacy that you intend to leave. However, it is important to remember that in an ideal scenario, an estate plan should be regularly updated and tweaked to reflect changing life circumstances.
If you are considering whether to take action to update your estate plan in Pennsylvania, it is important that you consider how your circumstances have changed and what you hope to achieve. You should never be complacent, but, instead, review your plan regularly to assess whether it still reflects the current reality. The following are some of the most common reasons why a person should update their estate plan.
You no longer have a good relationship with your trustees or executors
Choosing the executor of your estate and trustees are some of the most important decisions you can make when planning your estate. People holding these positions need to be worthy of your trust, and have good intentions. If you no longer have an appropriate relationship with your executor or trustee, you should take swift action to choose another, more suitable person.
You have gone through a divorce
An estate plan for a married person tends to look notably different to that of a single person. This is because in marriage, a spouse can take advantage of marital inheritance, which has numerous benefits from a tax and fee avoidance perspective. As a newly single person, you will need to create new strategies to create a plan that works for you.
There are new additions to your family
Families are always growing and evolving. If you have a new child or grandchild, it is likely that you will want to include them in your estate plan. If this is the case, it is important to update your estate plan in order to reflect this.
There are many other reasons why a person might need to update their will. If you want to take advantage of new laws or create a more economically efficient plan, it is important to conduct thorough research into estate planning possibilities.
Estate planning does not stop with an estate plan because it is equally important to update an estate plan once it is in place. A good rule of thumb to follow is to update an estate plan every three years. In addition, there are certain times in the life of the estate planner that should occasion a look at the estate planner’s estate plan. Estate planners should review their estate plan if they move to another state to ensure their estate plan is in compliance with all the estate planning rules in the new state.
In addition, whenever the estate planner’s relationships change, it is time to update their estate plan. This includes when the estate planner marries or divorces are has a child. It can apply in other relationship change circumstances as well. It is also important to ensure all beneficiary designations, such as on a retirement plan, are up-to-date. It is also time to update an estate plan when the estate planner’s assets and liabilities change.
Estate planning is important to address and to address properly. This means that it is an ongoing process and that an estate plan should be both developed and then revisited over time to ensure the wishes of the estate planner are reflected in the estate plan.
It's never too early to create an estate plan
You need a decision-maker
Estate planning is not just what happens at the time of your death. It is also useful in case you become incapacitated. For instance, if you were in a car wreck tomorrow that left you in a state where you could not make decisions concerning medical treatment or could not pay your bills, you will need someone with the authority to make decisions on your behalf. If you are unmarried and over 18, you might think your parents have the authority to do this. However once you became a legal adult, they no longer have the power to act on your behalf unless you explicitly grant it to them with a document like a power of attorney.
You may need a beneficiary
If you are fresh out of college and working your first full-time job, you might be receiving benefits such as the company paying into a retirement plan for you. If something happens to you, who will get the proceeds from the account? If you have not done so already, you will need to choose a beneficiary to receive the funds when you pass. This could be a parent, a sibling, niece or nephew or even your favorite charity.
A will can help your family avoid probate
Even if you only have a little money in the bank, it could spend months in probate in Pennsylvania if you do not have a will that specifies what you want done with your assets after your death. Or perhaps you have a long-term romantic partner whom you want to receive your property. If you are not married, your partner may not receive a dime of your money or your property if it is not specified in a will.
It is never too early to start the estate planning process. No matter where you are in life, having an estate plan in place can benefit you and your family if the unthinkable happens.
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