What is Estate Planning?
Do you know what will happen to your assets when you pass away or become incapacitated? If you have children, do you know who will take care of them if anything would happen to you? Estate planning is the process by which you make these and other important considerations in a legally binding fashion while you are still able to do so. Estate planning tasks can include writing a will, granting powers of attorney, setting up trusts, purchasing life insurance, and more.
Because most people are not equipped to perform these tasks on their own, speaking to an estate planning attorney is always a good idea when planning for the future. Estate planning lawyers like the ones at Yorkway Law Group in Bucks County, PA have the experience and knowledge it takes to create a sound plan and take all the steps necessary to execute it. With your estate plan in place, your surviving family members will be able to easily collect and distribute your assets, avoid unnecessary taxation, determine who will care for your children, and more. Appointing powers of attorney in your estate plan will also ensure someone you trust will be making medical and financial decisions for you if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. Without these documents, the courts could appoint a guardian for you, and it may not be the person you would prefer. That is why it is so important to speak with an estate planning attorney in the Bucks County, PA area as soon as possible.
No matter how old you are, the right time to start planning is now. You never know what the future may hold, so getting your affairs in order now is always a smart move. The Bucks County, PA area estate planning lawyers at Yorkway Law Group are waiting to hear from you.
An Estate Plan typically consists of the following documents:
- Last Will and Testament to provide for the distribution of your property after death.
- Property Power of Attorney to protect you if you become unable to take care of your affairs during your lifetime.
- Health Care Power of Attorney to appoint Health Care Agents if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
- Living Will to direct what medical treatment you do or do not want to receive in the event you are terminally ill with no hope of recovery.
- Various types of Trusts dependent on circumstances.
Personal Representation or Executor
A Personal Representative (often called an Executor) is the person who is designated to manage the estate administration process. Their responsibilities include initiating the estate administration process, notifying all interested parties, managing the assets, paying all of the estate’s debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. The Personal Representative works closely with the attorney throughout the process. The Personal Representative can be paid a reasonable fee for their time and effort in administering the estate.
In most cases, the Personal Representative will not be personally liable for any estate expenses, including the payment of taxes. A Personal Representative would, however, as part of their fiduciary duty, be responsible for paying all estate expenses from the assets of the estate. If there are not enough assets to pay all estate expenses, the Government of Pennsylvania determines the priority of the expenses to be paid.
The administration of the estate can be completed either formally or informally. Under the formal method, the Personal Representative prepares and files with the court an accounting of their administration. Notice is given to all interested parties, at which point they will have the opportunity to appear before the court and object to the accounting. After the court issues its decree, the Personal Representative distributes the assets to the beneficiaries.
Under the informal method, the Personal Representative prepares a Family Settlement Agreement and informal accounting. Once all the beneficiaries and any other necessary parties have signed the agreement, the Personal Representative can distribute the assets and avoid the additional costs and delay of formal accounting.