One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is not having an estate plan. Without a will, trust or other plan documents, there is no way to know for sure that your Pennsylvania estate will be distributed in accordance with your wishes. Furthermore, a lack of planning may make it harder to manage your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated.
Who will take care of your kids?
In addition to determining who gets your assets, a will can appoint someone to take care of your children if you die before they reach the age of majority. A trust can also be used to appoint a guardian for a minor son or daughter.
Who will manage your affairs if you’re unable to?
Designating a friend, family member or estate planning attorney as your financial agent enables that individual to manage your money when you cannot do so on your own. This person may be able to pay bills, manage a brokerage account or sell assets to pay for your care. A medical agent can help to ensure that your wishes are respected as it relates to the type of care that you receive while unconscious.
Don’t forget to review your beneficiary designations
If you have a retirement, brokerage or savings account, it will likely pass to a family member per the terms of a beneficiary designation. It’s important to note that the language in such a document trumps any instructions included in your will. Therefore, it is important to review these documents after major life events such as a marriage, divorce or death in the family.
A properly executed will, trust or beneficiary designation may help to ensure that your affairs are settled in a timely manner after you pass away. An attorney may be able to review your plan documents to ensure that they will hold up if anyone challenges their validity in court.