Creating a will and an estate plan is just the first step in ensuring one’s assets are distributed according to their wishes after their demise. To make sure that it takes into account changes in laws and life situations, it should be revisited every couple of years. As relationship and health changes, so do our wishes as to how our heirs inherit and what, but Pennsylvania residents often forget to update their estate plans accordingly. As the new year inches forward, one of the resolutions individuals should make is to review their estate plans and their life plans.
Estate tax has changed in recent years-it has been revised upwards which means that only estates that have a value of more than $11.2 million will be subject to federal tax. Therefore complicated estate plans that were created to minimize taxation may now be redundant. It’s also important to make sure that asset designation is accurate-how it is titled determines how it passes through wills or trusts. A retirement fund that has designated beneficiaries will be distributed differently from a joint bank account that may end up going to the survivor even if that person is not included in the will.
Life planning documents are just as important-who will speak for an individual if he or she is unable to speak for themselves? Depending on one’s situation, it could include a living will and advance directive regarding medical and personal care, financial management through powers-of-attorney and an appointed conservator in case the person ends up in probate court.
Planning carefully during one’s lifetime is essential to ensure one’s current and foreseeable needs are met. There are a number of estate planning and probate and life planning documents at one’s disposal to achieve this, which is why an experienced attorney can guide a Pennsylvania resident through the process of protecting their assets from probate.