Lehigh County, PA
The Family Law Attorney
Who Knows Estate Planning
Estate planning is planning for the future. It is a way for you to make decisions about yourself, your children and your assets instead of leaving those decisions to someone else. You must consider that the death or sickness of a loved one leaves family grieving and distressed. You can lessen this burden by proper planning. At Lopiano-Reilly Law Offices we are experienced and prepared in estate planning issues that affect businesses and families.
A proper estate plan should ensure that (1) you make your own decisions concerning your future; (2) you make the decision as to how your property is to be distributed; (3) you plan for your children and their needs; and (4) you minimize or eliminate taxes, court interference and costs.
At a minimum, every person should have a Durable Power of Attorney and, if desired, an Advanced Health Care Directive or Living Will. These documents, if properly drafted, will ensure that you are the one who will provide instructions for your care in the event you become incapacitated or disabled and ensure that you have a trusted agent who will take care of you and your finances when you need it.
A properly drafted Last Will and Testament will enable you to provide explicit instructions as to how your debts are to be paid and how your assets are to be distributed after your death. Importantly, a properly drafted Last Will and Testament should set out who will care for your children after you’re gone and provide the financial structure to do that through a trust naming an appropriate Trustee.
Many people are mistaken that estate planning is only applicable to wealthy individuals. If you do not properly plan your estate, you will be allowing future decisions to be made on your behalf by a court nominated individual if you become incapacitated or disabled. This would include health care decisions and decisions concerning the management of your assets. Moreover, state law will determine how and to whom your property and assets will be distributed. This process is known as “intestate succession”. These are all decisions that should and easily could be made by you while you are of sound mind and with much less stress and financial investment than you probably envision.
Relationships often change. Imagine the situation when a surviving spouse has less interaction and contact with the deceased spouse’s children from a prior marriage. Imagine the situation where parents die or become ill or incapacitated and no one was named to act as guardian for the minor children or trustee of the children’s assets. Are you on your second or third marriage? Then consider how you will plan for your “other” grandchildren or family members. A proper estate plan will avoid confusion that often results between family members, such as how to handle the deceased’s assets and final wishes. A failure to plan can strain once solid relationships.
When you die, state (and possibly federal) taxes due are computed on almost everything owned by an individual at death. This includes one’s home, business interests, bank accounts, investments, personal property, IRAs, retirement plans and death benefits from life insurance policies owned by the estate. These items are reduced by one’s debts at death, expenses of administration of the estate (such as executor, legal, and accounting fees), certain medical expenses, funeral expenses, and charitable deductions.
Lopiano-Reilly Law Offices can explain all of this to you and help you plan accordingly. Lopiano-Reilly Law Offices can help avoid stress if you plan now. Contact us to assist you.