Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC
KMA Elder Law & Life Care Planning

Answers You Need About Estate Plans In Pennsylvania

Making an estate plan can seem like a big step that is often overwhelming. Fortunately, when you work with our compassionate estate planning attorneys at Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, in Bloomsburg, you will have the guidance you need. We understand that you probably have many questions about the estate planning process. You can find our answers to several frequently asked questions below.

What documents does my estate plan need?

Every estate plan should have a few key tools. They include:

  • A last will and testament: Identifies your beneficiaries and states which assets to pass to whom.
  • A power of attorney: Grants someone the right to make legal and financial decisions if you lose your capacity.
  • A health care directive: Leaves instructions to your family and medical team about the care you receive.
  • A health care proxy: Names someone to make medical decisions for you if you no longer can.

You may also wish to name a guardian for your minor children or use trusts to pass assets to your loved ones.

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

A will determines who benefits from your estate after you pass away. Your will can include an executor of the estate, beneficiaries and an itemization of your assets. You can also use a will to name a guardian for a minor child. A will is usually a major component of an estate plan and must go through probate.

A trust is a legal entity that can manage your assets during and after your lifetime. You select a trustee (and possibly successor trustees) to oversee the care and distribution of a trust’s funds to its beneficiaries. Many people use trusts to protect assets from disputes, estate taxes and probate. Trusts do not go through probate.

Do I need an irrevocable trust?

Assets in an irrevocable trust are not liable for estate taxes and can limit vulnerability to creditors. A kind of irrevocable trust called a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) can also limit what assets are counted for people eligible for Medicaid coverage. Because it is difficult or impossible to change an irrevocable trust after its creation, it is wise to seek legal guidance before deciding if one is right for you.

How do I choose an executor for my estate?

The executor of your estate will be in charge of managing and distributing your assets after you pass away. This is not an easy job. If an executor fails to do their job, then they may breach their fiduciary duty. A breach of fiduciary duty could create problems for your loved ones (and the executor). When choosing your executor, you will want someone trustworthy, responsible, organized and capable of the job.

How much will my heirs inherit?

While you can choose how much your beneficiaries can inherit, that does not always mean they will inherit the full amount. An inheritance may be taxed depending on the value of an estate. There are certain measures that you can take to protect your assets and limit estate taxes. Talk to an experienced estate planning lawyer at Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, to discuss your goals.

When should I update my estate plan?

If you have an existing estate plan, you should update it every few years of after a significant life event such as a marriage, divorce or death in the family.

What if someone dies without a will in Pennsylvania?

The state has a set of rules that it follows if someone dies without a will. These are called the laws of intestacy. The court has a set of procedures by which to distribute your assets, but they might not go to the beneficiaries you would have chosen.

Can I make my own will?

There are many online options for making your own last will and testament. However, most courts will not honor these documents. It is much wiser to invest in a legally sound will composed by a knowledgeable attorney.

Learn More From An Estate Planning Lawyer

You almost certainly have more questions than we have answered on this page. To get more information about wills, trusts and estate plans, please schedule a consultation with us. You can call 570-798-1084 or send us an email to begin.