Fall 2011 Estate Planning Essentials


Our blog entry this week focuses on five topics that have been hot button issues for clients over the last few months. Estate planning continues to evolve and therefore, we must continue to “think different."

Estate Planning in General: Estate planning today isn’t what it was 5 or 10 years ago. For most families that I see today, saving estate tax dollars is not an objective, because there are simply no taxes to begin with! But just because the tax problem went away (at least for the time being) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan. Our clients come to us to make sure their kids and grandkids will be taken care of properly, and that their estate is setup and optimized properly to achieve those goals. In other words, there are many more reasons to engage in estate planning than simply to save taxes.

Powers of Attorney: To put it bluntly, we are living longer. A Will by itself won’t suffice anymore. A Will is a death document, and only kicks in upon your passing. As we live longer, we have more time where we may be incapacitated or incompetent to make decisions. Therefore, powers of attorney, appointing someone to take over your affairs, continue to become more essential.

Long-Term Care: Long-term care costs are rising. See last week's blog entry on the latest average costs in Pennsylvania for long-term care. It is essential that middle class families plan for long-term care costs. There are strategies that can be employed to save at least part of your estate from costs that could ravage your estate.

Non-Probate Assets: More and more, people are acquiring assets that don’t pass their Will, such as IRA’s, 401(k)’s, life insurance, and annuities. In general, any asset with a beneficiary designation form avoids the Will and avoids probate. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan or protect those assets with trusts or other devices, and it doesn’t mean you should ignore them when planning your Will and estate.

Gifting: 2011 and 2012 present great opportunities to make large gifts without incurring gift taxes. You can optimize your estate plan and take care of your kids or grandkids with life insurance, pensions for life, and other great tools. Gifting may be more limited come 2013, so now is the time to act.

Fall is typically our busiest time for estate planning. Make your appointment now and reserve some time with me today if you want to optimize your estate plan. Call my office today at (215) 706-0200 or schedule an appointment online on our web site.