Estate Planning

Friday, August 11, 2017

With Estate Planning, Organization Is Key

If you have recently put together your estate plan, congratulations. An estate plan—whether it consists of a Will, Trust, another device, or some combination of those things—is imperative to leaving a positive legacy and making sure your estate is distributed the way you want.

And while you can pat yourself on the back, you don’t want to forget an important “non-legal” aspect of planning—that is, organizing everything so that your Executor, Trustee, and heirs can find everything and easily settle your estate.

I recommend a fire-proof safe at home to store key documents. That way, the documents will be close to you and more accessible to your Executor.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Five Things To Know About Legacy Planning

We did a lunch & learn last week on IRA Trusts, something you newsletter readers have read about, courtesy of me, all too often. IRAs are potentially great assets to pass on, but only if structured properly. Unfortunately, there are many pitfalls with IRAs and inheritances.

One issue that comes up a lot, at these events and in meetings with my clients, is the desire to pass things along to heirs and beneficiaries, but the worry that comes along with that that the recipient will squander that gift.  Not too many people trust an heir, especially a young one, with a significant sum of money.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Making Sense Of Long-Term Care

Why don’t more people plan for long-term care? It’s probably one of the more difficult items to plan for due to the cost, the complexity and anxiety that comes with the thought of aging. Most people I talk to figure they’ll age gracefully, never leave their home and get in-home health care. While that is possible in more cases than ever today, nursing homes are at 92% occupancy in Pennsylvania and new ones continue to be built.

I’ve never talked to anyone who tells me they’re looking forward to going into a nursing home or that even wants to contemplate it. But for some folks, it’s a reality that they will face at some point.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top 10 Estate Planning Mistakes

We’ve all heard at least one estate planning horror story.  Or we’ve seen one on TV.  The surprise mistress that is given a large cut, the one child that has been written out of a will or feuding family factions each producing a different copy of the will.  It all makes for great TV and great drama, but chances are, you aren’t leaving your estate to a secret lover and you don’t want your estate plan to create a lot of undue stress.  But despite your best intentions, there are mistakes you could be making – unknowingly – that could produce a lot of drama after you’re gone.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Legal Update

There’s a bit of news in the estate planning world that I thought I’d share with you this week:

1. Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Changes

There is currently a potential law (HB 971) working its way through the PA House and PA Senate to eliminate inheritance tax for property passing from a parent to children under the age of 21. We’ll continue to watch this and potentially other inheritance tax changes in the future. If this passes and is signed by the Governor, it could be a turning point for PA inheritance tax law. The inheritance tax is unpopular and many legislators want it on the chopping block.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Diving Into A Stretch IRA

As we move from the pension era of retirement planning to the self-directed era, IRA’s and other retirement accounts are becoming a larger part of many estates.  It's not uncommon anymore to have a client with more than half of their estate parked in IRA’s.  If that’s the case for you (or will be as time goes on), then the concept of a Stretch IRA is important to understand.

When a non-spousal beneficiary - that's anyone besides your current wife or husband at the time of your death - inherits your IRA, they have two options.  They can either take a lump sum distributions (all of it, at once, in a big check, paying all of the income taxes up front) or continue the IRA.

Read more . . .

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dangers of Inherited IRAs, Part 2

Last week, we tackled some pretty major questions about protecting your retirement accounts as part of your estate, given the limited protections offered by traditional wills.  You can read that article here.  This week, we’re picking up where we left off and answering four more questions. 


4. Why does a “stretch” make more sense than a lump sum distribution?

A lump sum distribution of an IRA will trigger all of the income taxes to be paid immediately.

Read more . . .

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dangers of Inherited IRAs, Part 1

If you are like most folks these days, you have a significant portion of your estate saved in retirement accounts (IRA, 401(k), 403(b), TSP, etc).  Retirement accounts are a great legacy planning tool because they offer the ability for your beneficiaries to continue the tax-deferred treatment (e.g. “Stretch IRA”).  Unfortunately, many beneficiaries make mistakes and instead take a lump sum distribution.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Keep Your Estate Conflict-Free!

Prince is just the latest in a long line of celebrities who have failed to properly plan their estate. But it's not just celebrities who mess up or brush aside estate planning. Statistics show that at least half of adults in the United States don't have an estate plan.

Lawyers across the country continue to report an increase in estate litigation. There's no perfect solution to solving this problem, but a great place to start is with an estate planning attorney that you trust.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reasons You Must Have A Will

Recent surveys have shown approximately 50% or more of adults in our country do not have an estate plan. A Last Will & Testament is typically part of a well-rounded estate plan, and provides the foundation to ensure you leave a positive legacy. Without a Last Will & Testament, there could be an array of problems and missed opportunities. Here are a few:

  1. Executor: You need an Executor of your estate or else leaving it up to the state and your family to determine who will run the show. For example, If you have three children, they're all eligible to serve, so if they disagree on who should lead, that dispute could end up in court. Make your wishes clear by naming an Executor (and backups!).

  2. Intestate Laws: Every state has "Intestate" laws that govern what happens to your estate if you die without a Will. In Pennsylvania, if you're married with children and do not have a Will, your spouse and children will both receive an inheritance from you. If your intent is to leave everything to your spouse if you die first, you cannot control that unless you have a Will.

  3. Underage & Special Needs Beneficiaries: Underage and special needs beneficiaries require particular attention, where the use of a trust under a Will is necessary. If there is any possibility of leaving assets to grandchildren (even indirectly), you should have a conditional trust in your Will.

  4. Adult Beneficiaries: Even adult beneficiaries sometimes require trusts to protect them from themselves and others. Some adult beneficiaries are spendthrifts, addicts or have problems and receiving an outright inheritance would be dangerous. Other beneficiaries are responsible, but you may want to ensure the inheritance is kept in the bloodlines, and does not go to your favorite son-in-law or daughter-in-law. The only way to achieve this is to use a trust, which can be drafted within a Will.

  5. Personal Property & More: Disputes could occur no matter the size or value of an object. Sometimes the smallest items cause the biggest conflicts. Families are complex, and if you want to ensure a conflict-free legacy, a Will is the only way to guarantee that your wishes are adhered to and disputes avoided.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Five Barriers To Successful Estate Planning

  1. Perfection: Many of us believe that we can’t create a plan until we have every element lined up perfectly and plan for all future contingencies. Without a crystal ball (that works), that’ll never happen. Estate planning requires reviewing your plan on a regular basis and modifying it as needed to keep up with life changes. Focus on making the best plan for today's circumstances, and revisit it as often as needed.

  2. Paralysis-By-Analysis: Over-analyzing every aspect of your plan can cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture, which is that you need a well-crafted legacy plan. Don't get hung up on small or technical issues. Instead, prioritize communicating with your family and make sure everyone understands their role and the expectations that you have of them and how your plan will generally work. This goes a long way in perfecting your legacy.

  3. Procrastination: The longer you put off planning, the less urgent it becomes. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make sure you put your plan in place now while it’s on your mind. You cannot execute an estate plan if you’re not competent, so get to it while you’re healthy. A common excuse is waiting until every child is on board with your plan. That sounds good in theory, but in reality, it's often a way to delay making decisions. Remember, you need to make the decisions, not your children.

  4. “Simple” Syndrome: You think you only need a “simple” will and don’t have any issues that cause people to get a “real” estate plan done. The problem with a “simple will” is that it may not be written properly, and most likely doesn’t cover all of your wishes. Consider that a will doesn’t even cover your IRA’s, life insurance policies or annuities. A well-crafted estate plan will take your entire picture into account and make sure you have a legacy in which to be proud.

  5. Family Disagreements: If you’re married, you and your spouse need to come together to plan as one couple, not two separate people. You must hash out your differences of opinion and agree to one plan. Seeing an attorney can help clarify misunderstandings and help bring people together to agree on fundamental issues.


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The Law Offices of Jeremy A. Wechsler assist clients with Estate Planning matters in Willow Grove, PA as well as Abington, Hatboro, Dresher, Horsham, Bryn Athyn, Huntingdon Valley, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, Glenside, Oreland, Warminister, Wyncote, Ambler, Elkins Park, Flourtown, Philadelphia, Warrington, Cheltenham, Gwynedd Valley, Jamison, Feasterville Trevose, Richboro, North Wales, Blue Bell, Lafayette Hill, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Oaks, Phoenixville, Oxford Valley, Langhorne, Penndel, Bristol, Fairless Hills, Bensalem, Plymouth Meeting, Furlong, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Montgomery County.

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