Don’t have an estate plan? No one can force you to engage in estate planning, but without a proper estate plan, you are putting yourself and loved ones at more risk than necessary. Here are some complications that can arise when you don’t have a plan. For our readers that have not engaged in estate planning or haven’t reviewed their plan for over 3 years, now is the time to get your affairs in order.
- Intestate Laws: Pennsylvania has an intestate law that dictates how your property and assets are divided upon death if you do not have a will or other estate planning tool such as a living trust. Dying without a will can be costly, both in potential higher taxes and family grief/conflict due to a lack of knowledge about your wishes.
- Dependents: If you have minors or care for dependents or pets, you want to ensure you appoint someone in writing to be in charge of your dependents, kids or pets. You also want to make sure you leave assets, preferably in trust, to care for your dependents. If you have kids and no estate plan and they inherit assets, a custodian account will be established. Once a child turns 18, however, they are free to do what they want with those assets. Typically, an 18 year old does not have the maturity to handle their own assets.
- Spendthrifts and Special Needs: If you have a spendthrift child, or a spouse or child with special needs, there are steps you must take to ensure assets don’t end up in the wrong hands (creditors, government, bankruptcy court, etc.).
- Family Battles: Don’t assume your family will just sort out your affairs without any conflicts or commotion. From our law firm’s vantage point, we often hear of cases that go to court that pit family member against family member. We also know that conflicts can largely be avoided by putting together a proper estate plan. It’s just not worth the risk, or your legacy.
- Incapacity or Disability: You must ensure you have a power of attorney for your finances and health care. That way, if something happens to you and you cannot make decisions for yourself, someone you trust can immediately carry on your important affairs. Without a power of attorney, sometimes a guardian will have to be appointed in court, and the guardian must continue to be supervised by the Orphan’s Court. This means legal bills can pile up quickly and unnecessarily.
If you, a friend, a neighbor or relative need estate planning assistance, we welcome you to contact our firm at your convenience. You can use our convenient online contact form or call us at anytime at (215) 706-0200. We are pleased to offer a complimentary initial consultation.