By Jeremy A. Wechsler, Esq.
Principal Attorney
The Law Offices of Jeremy A. Wechsler

1. Find a qualified estate planning attorney who is an expert in estate planning who will know the right questions to ask to draft your plan. For instance, ask if your attorney is a member of WealthCounsel and ElderCounsel, the premier national estate planning organization.

2. Determine the value of your estate – tally up all of your assets and liabilities for estate tax purposes. The federal exemption is currently high, and very few estates will be taxed at the federal level.

3. Talk to your attorney about how to reduce Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax for your heirs, and how to effectively “disinherit the IRS” from some of your estate.

4. Gather important documents, such as life insurance policies, annuities, pensions, retirement accounts, IRA’s, 401(k)’s, bank accounts, savings accounts, securities, real property deeds, mortgages and loans. Organizing these items is key.

5. Consider who will be your Executor, Power of Attorney and Trustee. These are all important roles, and working with an attorney to choose the individuals you will appoint is key.

6. Consider what instructions you want in your living will, such as whether you want to die naturally or not.

7. Think about whether you want to avoid probate, the court administration of your estate if you have a will, or an unfunded living trust. Probate can be frustrating, time consuming and costly for your loved ones upon your passing. But you can avoid probate with a proper estate plan.

8. Make sure you have funeral arrangements and instructions regarding burial or cremation. MyWonderfulLife ( provides a free service online to help you plan for your funeral, so that loved ones can quickly find out your wishes for the funeral proceedings. 

9. Make sure you have a long-term care plan. Look at life insurance with long-term care benefits attached to the policies. Our office can help you explore these solutions.

10. Make sure you communicate your plan with your family. Remember, your living trust or will and powers of attorney are one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones. But you must be sure that they are aware of your plan, know where to find it upon your passing, and agree on it now.

Can our office help you with your estate plan? Please contact us today for a complimentary consultation.