We spend many years going to school and then pursuing a job, a family, or both. Hopefully, the student loan debt is satisfied and we begin to accumulate property. It may be a house, a rental property, a vacation property, furniture, jewelry or motor vehicles. Even if you do not have all of those items of property, you have likely been saving money in some form, whether it is in stock, mutual funds, money markets or simply a savings account. You may even have started up a business, either individually or with others. You have spent a lot of time trying to get and then keep the property, it makes sense to spend some thought and time about what is to happen to that property should you become disabled or after you die.
Unfortunately, many people do not want to consider their mortality until they have reached an age when they may not be able to take full advantage of the estate planning opportunities available to them.
An attorney can help guide you through the estate planning process and can provide you with much more than a simple form will. For example, how do you deal with issues like minor children or a family member with special needs? Do you know what property in which you have an ownership interest will be considered part of your estate when you pass and what might be transferred to someone regardless of what you put in the will? How do you properly disinherit an estranged family member and who can you legally disinherit? What do you want to do with your digital assets like a Facebook account? What options do you have when you have children from multiple relationships? What do you want to happen if your preferred beneficiary predeceases you? What do you want to happen if you no longer own an item of property at the time of your death, but that piece of property was the only thing which you had left to a particular person? Will the will be valid if you move to another state?
Why not simply sell your valuable property to one or more of your beneficiaries for much less than what it is worth? Doing so is likely to have significant tax consequences. A person might even find that he or she is being evicted from the property that was sold to a beneficiary.
Planning your estate can become complicated and if not done correctly, it can cause bad feelings among your beneficiaries, result in an intended beneficiary not getting the property you wanted that person to have, or even lead to litigation between beneficiaries. Fortunately, these issues can be addressed and resolved through guidance from an attorney who regularly provides estate planning advice and the preparation of wills and trusts. Additionally, consideration should be given to the need for powers of attorney, living wills, and medical powers of attorney.
Estate planning is putting together a strategy of how your assets, debts, and wishes will be handled after your passing. It should also include providing a plan for what you want to happen to your property and you if you are alive but no longer able to make those decisions for some reason. You want to make sure that your personal representatives understand and follow your instructions once you are no longer doing so. Professional consultation with an attorney is a must, at least to have questions answered and options explained.
Attorneys at Leonard Sciolla have been assisting clients with their estate planning issues for over thirty-five years. Attorneys at the firm have also helped clients with the administration of estates of family and friends for decades. It’s important to your peace of mind that your estate planning is handled properly and with the right level of care and thought that it deserves. Leonard Sciolla’s Estate Planning and Administration Group can see your wishes through. Call John J. Leonard, Heidi E. Anderson, or Robert R. Atkins at (215) 567-1530, or contact us online.