Estate planning is the process of accumulating and disposing of an estate to maximize the goals of the estate owner. The various goals of estate planning include, but are not limited to: making sure that the greatest amount possible of a person’s estate passes to that person’s intended loved ones and beneficiaries; paying the least amount possible of inheritance and death taxes on the estate assets; and minimizing or altogether avoiding the extent of the probate process to which that person’s estate might otherwise be exposed. In formulating an effective estate plan, it is important to consider, among other things:
- The size of the client’s prospective estate and what kind of assets (real, personal, monetary) are held in it;
- Who the client’s loved ones and intended beneficiaries are, how old they are, and whether or not any of them have any special needs or disabilities;
- The type and extent of the potential estate or death taxes to which the client’s estate may besubject; and
- What the client’s future goals and financial needs may be.
Proper estate planning should address not only what happens to a client’s assets after his or her death, but also how to best provide for that person’s future needs and physical well being during his or her lifetime. Many people believe that estate planning consists of nothing more than making a simple Will. Obviously, a properly implemented estate plan can entail much more than that. Estate planning may involve not only financial and tax planning, but also medical and business planning. While a Will is certainly an important component of an estate plan, other documents should also be considered and discussed. These may include a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney, a Revocable Living Trust, a Living Will, or even a Special Needs Trust.
At American Wills & Estates we understand that every client’s financial and family situation is unique. We will take the time to fully understand your personal circumstances and your hopes for your family in order to craft an individual estate plan for you that best meets your needs. We will help you accomplish what you want to accomplish, while making every effort to minimize and avoid the effect of estate and after-death taxes on your assets.
Remember, the circumstances guiding your decisions while formulating your initial estate plan are likely to change as your life and financial situation changes. At American Wills & Estates we continue to work with our clients during their entire lifetimes. We want to ensure that their estate plans are not only current as to both Pennsylvania and Federal estate tax laws, but also with respect to carrying out and fulfilling their wishes and goals.