Western PA's Premier Estate Administration & Estate Planning Law Firm

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We strive to make the process of estate planning and estate administration as simple and straightforward as possible. At American Wills and Estates we speak to our clients in plain English, and we are sensitive to the fact that many of our clients are still grieving the loss of a loved one. Our number one goal is to put our clients at ease and to reassure them with competency and compassion in their times of need.


  • Why is Estate Planning Important?

    Anyone who owns or has anything has an estate. Your estate might include a home, cars, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, retirement plans, business interests, furniture and other miscellaneous personal goods and household effects.

    What happens to your estate—when you die, or if you become incapacitated physically or... Read More
  • 6 Steps To Preparing An Estate Plan at American Wills & Estates

    At AW&E, we have developed a streamlined and manageable process for estate planning that helps our clients overcome procrastination.

    Stage One: Initial Meeting

    You will have a free initial legal consultation with an AW&E attorney (with optional additional meetings, if necessary, also at no charge). Here we learn basic information about you... Read More

  • Has the Fiscal Cliff Been Averted? Yes and No.

    If you’ve been paying attention, you probably already know that Congress passed a tax compromise that, to a large degree, has averted the so called fiscal cliff and makes permanent the federal estate tax with an exemption of $5.12 million/individual (indexed for inflation) and a flat tax rate of 40% for amounts over the exemption.  Still, many folks will... Read More

  • Even Celebrities Make Estate Planning Mistakes

    Here are some classic examples that you can avoid.
  • Jimi Hendrix’s Critical Error: Doing Nothing
    Story: Music legend Jimi Hendrix died at age 27 in 1970 without a will. Under state law, his dad, Al, got everything, leaving his close brother Leon with nothing. Al built Hendrix’s musical legacy into an $80 million venture, but in his own will cut out... Read More
  • Probate Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

    As an attorney who has practiced exclusively in the areas of estate planning and probate estate administration for the past twenty years I have heard people make every excuse under the sun why they don’t need to take the time to put an effective estate plan in place. Here are five of the most common excuses I hear:

  • I don’t have enough assets for... Read More
  • What Is A Living Will or Advance Health Care Directive and Why Should I Have One?

    The two seminal legal cases that led to the development of what we know of today as Living Wills or Advance Health Care Directives were the Karen Ann Quinlan and Terri Schiavo right-to-die cases.

    Karen Ann Quinlan was just 21 when she became unconscious after arriving home from a party. She had consumed alcohol and a combination of prescription... Read More

  • What Are An Executor's Duties And Responsibilities?

    An Executor’s duties and responsibilities for handling the administration of a Decedent’s estate can include many different things. The Executor may be responsible for arranging the Funeral, taking possession of all of the Decedent’s documents to ascertain both assets and liabilities, taking interim possession of all of the property, having the estate... Read More

  • What is a Durable Power of Attorney and Why Should I Have One?

    For most of us, a Durable Power of Attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents that we will ever put in place. Whereas a Last Will and Testament addresses what will happen to our estates and assets after we have died, a Durable Power of Attorney addresses what will happen in the event that we should become incapacitated during our own... Read More

  • Why Plan Your Estate?

    The understanding that we will eventually die is one of the things that sets us apart from other living beings. Nevertheless, none of us likes to contemplate our own mortality. However, if we simply choose to postpone planning for our demise until it is too late, we run the risk that our intended beneficiaries – those we love the most – may not receive... Read More

  • Federal Estate Taxes… What’s the deal for 2011?

    A bipartisan tax agreement recently unveiled by the Senate would be generous to taxpayers who die leaving large estates. The agreement would add to the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 to H.R. 4853, an airport and airway trust fund tax bill. The act added to H.R. 4853 would be a modified version of a tax... Read More

  • Do Your Parents Have Effective Estate Planning in Place?

    The mere idea of having a talk with our elderly parents about their finances and estate planning is enough to make most of us run in the opposite direction. Won’t they think we’re just making a grab for their cash or invading their privacy? As painful as such a conversation might be, such communication is often the key to helping ensure that our parents... Read More

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