If you are like many individuals, you’ve given thought to the need for comprehensive estate planning, but you’ve done nothing about it. You’ve talked about comprehensive estate planning, but haven’t spoken with an estate attorney. There are five key facts about comprehensive estate planning to bear in mind. Considering these facts may motivate you to schedule a prompt appointment with an experienced estate lawyer.
Comprehensive Estate Planning is Not Just for Wealthy Individuals
A common misconception is that comprehensive estate planning is only for wealthy, well-healed folks. In reality, nearly everyone benefits from comprehensive estate planning. The starting point is scheduling a consultation with an estate lawyer. There is no charge for an initial consult regarding the need for an estate plan.
Absent Comprehensive Estate Planning, the State Runs the Show
You must keep in mind that if you do not estate plan, the state runs the show when you pass away. Without an estate plan, the laws of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania dictate what happens to your property when you die. Your wishes, whatever they may be, become complete irrelevant.
Proper Comprehensive Estate Planning Can Protect Children Financially
If you have minor children, or if you have adult children who may not be the best money managers, estate planning is a must. Through a properly crafted estate plan, you ensure that your minor children are taken care of after you pass. A solid estate plan ensures that your adult children are taken care of but that they do not waste money or assets in a frivolous manner.
Comprehensive Estate Planning is Crucial for Non-Traditional Relationships
If you are in a non-traditional relationship, you must develop an estate plan. For example, if you live with your significant other, but are not married, you must have an estate plan in place. Once again, the absence of an estate plan in this type of situation results in the laws of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania determining where your property goes after death. Your significant other can be effectively locked out of receiving your property if you die without a suitable estate plan in place.
It’s Never Too Early to Start Estate Planning
You are never too young and it is never too early to begin comprehensive estate planning. Make an appointment with a qualified estate attorney today to schedule a no-cost initial consultation to analyze you specific needs, goals and objectives.
There is a long overused cliché: The only thing certain and life is death and taxes. When it comes to death and dying, there are some interesting estate and probate facts worth pondering.
The Origin of “Last Will and Testament”
One of the more interesting estate and probate facts is the origin of the term “last will and testament.” Historically, will was utilized to distribute real estate when a person died. Testament was the term associated with distributing personal property after death.
Estate and Probate Facts: Longest Will Probated
The longest will ever probated by a court was in the United Kingdom. The estate itself was rather small, having a value of about $100,000. The will ran 1,066 pages and almost 96,000 words.
Estate and Probate Facts: Shortest Wills in Modern Times
There are two wills tied for the shortest in modern times, one written in India, the other in Germany. One will read: “All to wife.” The other will read: “All to son.”
The Actor and the Skull
An actor named Del Close includes a provision in his will that donated his skull to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. His intention was to play Yorick in the Shakespeare play Hamlet after his death. (Yorick appears only as a skull in the iconic play.) In the end, no one would agree to remove the head from the dead actor’s body and the bequest remained unfulfilled.
The Oldest Will in History
The oldest known will in history dates back to 2548 B.C. in Egypt. A man named Uah left all of his property to his wife Teta.
Living Wills – Something Relatively New
Although wills have been around for centuries, living wills are of fairly recent origin. The living will was first permitted in the United States in the state of California in 1976.
Estate and Probate Facts: Howard Hughes
One of the wealthiest – and arguably most unusual – Americans in recent history died without a will. The lack of a will caused considerable chaos in the aftermath of the eccentric billionaire’s passing.
Retain an Estate Attorney
Perhaps the most important estate and probate fact is the need to retain a qualified, experienced estate and probate attorney. Proactive estate planning is the best course to take to ensure a person’s wishes are carried out at the time of death.
If you are in a non-traditional relationship, estate planning is a must. Non-traditional estate planning has become a major issue in this day and age, with so many people living in a wide range of different types of relationships. This particularly includes individuals who live together without the benefits associated with a traditional marriage.
The Reality of No Estate Planning
The stark reality of a lack of non-traditional estate planning is that when you pass, your loved one will not benefit in any way, shape or form from your estate. For example, assume that you’ve lived with your partner for years, decades even. You pass on. Despite the length of your relationship, despite the commitment to your significant other, all of your assets will pass so a family member or family members as set forth in the statutes of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Side Arrangements with Family Members are No Substitute for Non-Traditional Estate Planning
Time and time again, a person in a non-traditional relationship makes what can best be described as a side deal or side arrangement with a family member (or family members) in lieu of proper estate planning. A person requests that a family member “take care of” his or her significant partner when the individual seeking help from a relative passes away. The person asks a family member to make sure his or her relationship partner “gets my property” when death occurs. This may sound like you. And, if it does you are not alone.
The odds of a family member honoring your desires informally expressed in this manner are not guaranteed. Moreover, there are tremendous legal and tax consequences associated with this type of informal “arrangement.” In short, side arrangements with family members do not work. They simply are no substitute for bona fide non-traditional estate planning.
The Necessity of Legal Assistance
Estate planning for a person in a non-traditional relationship can be quite complex. Informal arrangements won’t work. In addition, it is crucial that the legal documents necessary to create a suitable estate plan properly are prepared. Therefore, if you are in a non-traditional relationship, you must be proactive and retain the services of a skilled estate attorney. An estate lawyer will schedule a no-cost initial consultation with you to discuss your options.
Death and money represent two subjects that most folks do not want to discuss. This reality underscores the difficulty of a family estate planning conversation – both subjects come together in one discussion.
Despite the inherent challenges of an estate planning conversation with family members, it must be done. There are four tips to consider when contemplating an estate planning conversation with the family.
Take a Proactive Approach to an Estate Planning Conversation
Do not wait until a crisis exists to engage in an estate planning conversation with family members. Rather, a proactive approach is crucial. Select and time and place in which a conversation of this nature can be undertaken without the added burden of a sick family member.
Estate Planning Conversation in a Safe Environment
Select a safe and comfortable environment for an estate planning conversation. Being able to control the environment where this discussion takes place is another reason for taking a proactive approach. “The comfort of your own home” is a turn of phrase that illustrates the type of environment in which a conversation about estate planning issues occurs.
In anticipation of a family estate planning conversation, it is important for the presenting family member to be well prepared. The basic objectives of an estate plan must be outlined. Ideally, an initial consultation with a skilled, experienced estate attorney occurs before the scheduling of this family confab.
Honestly Answer Questions
As part of being prepared for an estate planning conversation question, a person must also be ready to honestly and accurately respond to questions. If questions arise for which a person lacks an answer, that fact should honestly be conveyed to the questioner.
In addition, there may be some information that appropriately should not be shared with family members. As a result, precise boundaries should be established at the outset of a family estate planning conversation.
By engaging in a candid estate planning conversation with family members, these relatives will be both empowered and have a sense of buy-in to the estate plan itself. They will be in a better position to address estate related matters at the time the presenting family member passes away. Moreover, deficiencies that might exist in an estate plan oftentimes are realized and identified through this type of communication process.