Three Pillars Of Estate Planning In Pennsylvania
Survey results indicate that more than half of Americans believe that estate planning is important, but there seems to be some disconnect when it comes to those who have actually taken steps to secure their future. Just 33 percent of survey respondents have prepared a will, living trust, or related estate planning documents. The top reason provided is mere procrastination, but another factor is that many people do not think they have enough assets to leave.
In addition, there are some who state that their reason for not creating an estate plan is that they do not know where to begin. Fortunately, this is a hurdle that is easy to overcome when you know your options under Pennsylvania law. There are three fundamental purposes when preparing for your future, both during your lifetime and upon your passing. While you should always trust a Lehighton estate planning attorney for details, the basic pillars include:
- Incapacity: In the event that you suffer from injuries or an ailment, you may not have the mental acuity to make decisions regarding your assets and health care. However, you can address a situation of incapacity by executing the right estate planning documents, including:
- A durable power of attorney, in which you appoint an agent to manage your real estate and personal property;
- A Pennsylvania Advance Health Care Directive that names an agent to handle decisions regarding health care; and,
- A living will that describes the forms of life-sustaining treatment you DO or DO NOT want if you cannot communicate your intentions.
- Your Legacy: People primarily associate estate planning with death, so many are familiar with the role of a will. With this document, you name an executor to manage your final affairs and provide instructions on how your assets are to be distributed.
Another important option for protecting your legacy is creating a trust. A living trust is one that you manage yourself during your lifetime, and a successor trustee takes over to continue the terms of the trust upon your passing. A testamentary trust is created by your will and becomes effective at death.
- Asset Protection: Individuals with high net worth, owners of complex assets, and business owners often employ estate planning strategies to protect their interests. As mentioned above, a living trust is one way to safeguard assets and maintain privacy. While you cannot engage in fraudulent transactions to avoid paying taxes or creditors, there are options that enable favorable treatment. With an irrevocable trust and application of exemptions, you could minimize estate taxes.
Discuss Options with a Lehighton Estate Planning Attorney
This overview of the three pillars of estate planning is useful for helping you understand your options, but you will need skilled legal counsel to make the appropriate arrangements. To learn more about how to coordinate a will, living trust, powers of attorney, and related documents, please contact the Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C. Individuals in Carbon County, PA can call or go online to set up a confidential consultation.