A proactive approach to estate planning

Although the start of the New Year may be a fading memory for many readers, a recent article reminds us of the importance of having a current estate plan in place.

In fact, some readers may have even included this issue in their list of 2014 resolutions. Yet the nuances of estate law can be complex, and perhaps intimidating. For readers that haven’t yet overcome their fear of addressing the issue of estate planning, a consultation with an attorney that specializes in trust and estate law might be just the needed remedy.

An attorney can provide background and context to individuals who may have preliminary questions, such as whether a will or trust might be the better legal instrument for their needs. An attorney can also advise on the tax implications of various planning options.

In fact, the range of options available under Pennsylvania law might surprise individuals new to estate planning. Beyond the general distinction of wills and trusts, there are many subsets of each. A will can even be used to create a trust, of which there are types including revocable, irrevocable and stand-alone.

Notably, no issue is too small or insignificant for a will or trust. Individuals who live alone and have pets might wish to designate a guardian in the event the need arises. Individuals can also create health care directives that specify the types of treatment they wish to decline, in the event of incapacitation.

It’s also never too early to start thinking about estate planning. A recent study estimates that 12.5 percent of 20-year-olds will not reach age 67. Although mortality may be a subject that many prefer not to think about, an attorney knows that avoiding estate planning will not make the subject any easier. With a little planning and helpful guidance, an attorney can help individuals plan for their future in an easy and proactive way.

Source: Star Tribune, “Resolve to get your affairs in order,” Tim Engle, Feb. 19, 2014


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