By Jeremy A. Wechsler, Esq.
The Law Offices of Jeremy A. Wechsler
1. Choose An Attorney: 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, the premier national estate planning organization (Hint: Jeremy is!).
2. Understand Your Estate: 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. Extra Tax? No Thanks! 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. Organize Organize Organize: 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. Choosing Helpers: Consider who you will appoint as Executor, Power of Attorney and Trustee. These are all important roles, your attorney can help explore the best options for your circumstances.
6. Health and Financial Powers of Attorney: With the onset of COVID-19, advanced directives and living wills have become more important. Begin to think about end-of-life wishes, and who will make medical decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself. Also, don’t forget a Durable Financial Power of Attorney–this is key to ensuring someone can help you if you cannot do things for yourself (i.e., pay bills, and much more).
7. Trust–Is It For You? Sometimes, a trust may make sense for your estate, whether to avoid probate, protect assets, or strategize to minimize federal estate taxes. Work with your attorney to determine whether a trust is appropriate for your circumstances.
8. Final Arrangements: Make sure you have funeral arrangements and instructions regarding burial or cremation. MyWonderfulLife (www.mywonderfullife.com) 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. Long-Term Care: Make sure you have a long-term care plan. Look at life insurance with long-term care benefits attached to the policies. Consider a Medicaid Trust. Our office can help you explore these solutions and more.
10. Communication Is Key: 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.