Estate Planning2019-01-31T21:16:12+00:00

Estate Planning

Estate planning and asset protection are important but can be a complicated areas of law. Many people view estate planning as something that is only important for the wealthy. In reality, everyone, regardless of age or wealth, can benefit from some form of estate planning. While planning your estate on your own is doable, there are certain standards you must meet. And, without the careful guidance of a lawyer, you may make mistakes. You may not consider details, such as taxes, titling concerns, and beneficiary listings, which are essential to planning every estate. For example, did you know Pennsylvania is one of only 6 states that has an inheritance tax or what some call a death tax? This tax hits everyone and is relevant to every estate, regardless of any level of wealth. Or, did you know a simple Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents you can have? The attorneys at Anderson & Labovitz have seen these issues play out in their decades of practice helping families.

Whether you are just beginning to build your estate or want to protect the wealth that you have amassed over a lifetime, we are here to develop, refine, and implement the best strategy. We have successfully helped numerous families protect their hard earned assets for second and third generation family members and ensure their loved one’s wishes are carried out in an efficient and economical manner.

While a Last Will and Testament is a good starting point, we offer a broad scope of services to create a comprehensive plan, including:

Wills

Wills are the foundations of most estate plans. In order to be effective, however, they should be comprehensive and detailed; and, your attorney must work intimately to understand the family. As your attorneys, we will help you draft a will that leaves no room for doubt. With 15 years of experience, we know what details to include and what language to use to make sure your Will accomplishes your goals and stands up against challenges in a clear fashion.

Revisions of Wills

We can help you review or update an old will. We have the knowledge of Pennsylvania law to keep your will up-to-date with current statutes. It is important to review your will at least every five years to ensure it still meets your wishes and desires.

Even if you have a Will prepared by another attorney, we are happy to help.  Some people have the misconception that they must return to the same lawyer who drafted the original will to update matters. This is not true.  We have helped many clients revise their Wills and are happy to communicate with your previous lawyer to ensure there are no confusing copies out there.

If it has been a while since you reviewed your current will, we are happy to review your documents and provide guidance to meet your goals and desires.

Out of State?  We’re Happy to Assist Your Loved Ones

Maybe work or family has required you to move out of state, but your mother, father, or other loved one still resides in western Pennsylvania. As your loved one ages, you might notice that their personal bookkeeping and ability to manage their day-to-day affairs is faltering. This can be extremely difficult to manage from afar. We can help you assist your loved one by meeting one-on-one to help ensure proper planning is in place or up to date to avoid problems down the road.

You can count on us to work closely with you to create an estate plan that is tailored to you and your family’s needs.  Call us now at 412-209-3200 or send us an email at aanderson@PaLawFirm.com or at jash@PaLawFirm.com to schedule a free, no-obligation conference to assess your needs.

Trusts

Avoiding Probate and Taxes With Trusts

Trusts can be used to avoid probate, creditors, and estate taxes as well as protect beneficiaries. By placing your assets in Trust or creating stipulations in your Will that form a Trust upon your death, you can save your heirs from hassle and headache. While there are numerous types of Trusts, there are four that are the most commonly used by Anderson & Labovitz clients.

Revocable Trusts

A Revocable Trust, also known as a living trust, is one that you create while you are alive. This trust gives you the ability to modify it at any time or revoke it completely if you wish.  Through the use of this type of Trust, you can maximize your ability to avoid the lengthy and complicated probate process while ensuring your Estate Plan goals are accomplished.  Although a Revocable Trust will avoid probate, the assets therein may still be subject to creditors and inheritance taxes.  Therefore, this type of Trust is not suitable for everyone, but it does have its place for some of our clients in accomplishing their plan desires.

Irrevocable Trusts

In addition to the above benefits of avoiding probate, an Irrevocable Trust can provide the additional benefits of protection from creditors and can result in complete avoidance of inheritance taxes as well as protection from Pennsylvania regarding its Medicaid look-back.  However, this type of Trust cannot be changed or revoked by you.  As a result, this, again, is a type of Trust not suitable for everyone. However, many of our clients are able to see a benefit for their family from implementing an Irrevocable Trust.

Testamentary Trusts

A Testamentary Trust is created in a will and does not get funded until the passing of the testator.  This type of Trust is an excellent tool for those who expect to leave assets to minors.  Failure to incorporate this simple type of a Trust in your will could result in unnecessary Court proceedings where the Court ultimately helps set up a trust for you minor beneficiary.

Supplemental Needs Trusts and Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts are created to protect a person who receives Social Security Income (Social Security Disability or Supplemental Income) and who may be subject to personal income limits in order to continue receiving these public benefits.  We can work to help ensure there is money to provide for a beneficiary on government assistance while not affecting these public benefits.

You can count on us to work closely with you to assess your family’s situation and needs and incorporate the appropriate trusts into your Estate Plan.  Call us now at 412-209-3200 or send us an email at aanderson@PaLawFirm.com or at jash@PaLawFirm.com to schedule a free, no-obligation conference to assess your needs.

Powers of Attorney

A Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney is a very powerful document but is one of the most important for your Estate Plan.  Through the use of a Power of Attorney, you can give your named agent the power to handle your financial affairs in critical times. This power can be used to merely make handling everyday affairs easier between spouses ease bookkeeping matters for an elderly loved one, or even avoid potential costly guardianship proceedings.  A Power of Attorney can also be key in ensuring your Estate Plan matters are handled appropriately.

You can count on us to work closely with you to ensure complete understanding of this broad power and ensure your Estate Plan leaves no gaps.  Call us now at 412-209-3200  or send us an email at aanderson@PaLawFirm.com or at jash@PaLawFirm.com to schedule a free, no-obligation conference to assess your needs

Probate Avoidance, Asset Protection and Tax Planning

With proper planning and guidance, as well as the use of other techniques and services we provide, it is possible to avoid the expensive and lengthy probate process and minimize inheritance taxes.  Call us now at 412-209-3200 or send us an email at aanderson@PaLawFirm.com or at jash@PaLawFirm.com to schedule a free, no-obligation conference to assess the various techniques applicable to your specific situation.

Living Wills and Healthcare Powers of Attorney

The question is often presented: How do you want your medical care to be handled in an end-of-life situation? Do you want doctors to do everything possible to keep you alive, or do you want them to cease treatment at a certain point?

While difficult to think about, these are extremely important questions to answer while you are in good health. Not only will these documents give doctors guidance to make the right choice based upon your own expressed desires, it will also remove the stress from your family in having to make this decision for you.

Your healthcare agent is someone you choose to follow your written guidance and make healthcare decisions for you.  You can name a family member or a friend who is familiar with your beliefs and values to follow your Heathcare Power of Attorney and Living Will and make decisions for you.

As your attorneys, we will help guide you through the difficult but important decisions that are necessary to create a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. We will make sure your wishes are expressed clearly, so there is no room for dispute and to eliminate the stress often experienced by loved ones.

We are available for our clients during emergencies.

Our firm can meet clients at health care facilities or during an emergency. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured and needs to quickly draft a will, financial power of attorney or medical power of attorney, we can help.

FAQ

Trust, estate and tax laws are constantly changing. We counsel clients with up-to-date advice in order to properly plan their estates, protect the assets they build over a lifetime, and ensure the family is protected. We are here to help answer any questions you may have and are just a phone call away at 412-209-3200 or feel free to or send us an email at aanderson@PaLawFirm.com or at jash@PaLawFirm.com.

We charge simple flat fees for the vast majority of the Estate Plans we develop.  We can help start your estate plan with what you can afford. We provide a free consultation to discuss your specific situation and let you know how much it might cost you to find practical solutions with your financial capabilities.

We charge affordable probate fees based upon a suggested sliding scale that decreases as the estate value increases. This helps ensure the fee is always reasonable and not a standard 5% across the board, regardless of value, as is often quoted. Alternatively, we are happy to offer hourly fees or flat fee matters based upon the needs of the Executor.

Well, that depends on your family make-up.  Generally speaking, this is what will happen:

If you do not have a spouse or kids, your parents will inherit your estate.  However, this can be problematic for elderly parents who are looking to spend down their estate in an effort to qualify for medical assistance.  An inheritance received by your parents may disqualify them from services or essentially go straight to a nursing home.

If you are married with no kids, your spouse will get the first $30,000 of your estate and your spouse AND PARENTS will split everything else. Many people think that because they are married that their spouse inherits everything.  However, unfortunately, the law states otherwise.  Your spouse may be left financially strapped or your parents may wind up ineligible for medical assistance.

With no Testamentary Trust in place, the Executor will be forced to go through trust proceedings to either set up a restricted account or a Trust that will hold the money for your children.  By setting up a simple Testamentary Trust, these court proceedings could have been fully avoidable and the funds could have been accessible to benefit the children.

Generally speaking, Yes.  However, often times there are write-offs or deductions which may be taken to minimize the tax consequences.

Pennsylvania is one of six states with an Inheritance Tax or death tax on inherited assets.  Inheritance Tax Returns are necessary even if there is no probate estate.  Inherited IRA’s, Joint assets, and other assets with beneficiary listings are taxed in most circumstances!  Generally, Life Insurance is the only asset for which there is no tax due payable to Pennsylvania.