January was New Year’s resolution time; how did that work out?  Yeah, it’s the same for many.  But don’t fret.  

Unlike your New Year’s resolution, there is one thing that our lawyers can definitely make happen. We make it quick and easy for you to get the appropriate estate planning documents in order, including an up to date Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will.

Preparing a proper estate plan is important to persons at all walks of life. The process of drafting proper estate planning includes understanding and determining how assets will be distributed, and how debt will be paid.  Also, very important to many of my clients is the naming of guardians for children, as well as trustees to provide for those children, and agents to provide proper care and support for elderly parents.  Furthermore, if substantial net worth is involved, then the planning must deal with the federal tax planning and gifting schemes.  Recent fiduciary code changes and revisions to tax laws are yet another reason to review documents in place or to have documents prepared if none exist.

If you have not reviewed your Will or Estate Planning documents within the past 24 months, or if you have yet to begin the process, then right now is the perfect time to contact our office for a free review and/or consultation.  A few issues you’ll want to consider are:

• Recently enacted Pennsylvania law has limited certain Power of Attorney powers thereby requiring new wording to enable some specific powers.  We recently were involved in a property sale where an old Power of Attorney was rejected, due to old form.  This rejection jeopardized the sale of property in a multi-million dollar estate, potentially causing expensive litigation fees.  Through some quick, meticulous work, we were able to avoid litigation.  However, others are not as fortunate.

• Review and update beneficiary designations and account ownership.  We’ve reviewed various plans where divorced individuals have failed to timely update bank account ownership or real estate titling.  We’ve also run into circumstances where the mere failure to list a beneficiary has resulted in a costly and lengthy probate process which otherwise could have been avoided.  Don’t fall into these situations where you end up losing an account or wasting money on taxes and court costs!  In reviewing your beneficiary designations, remember, minor children should not be named direct beneficiaries of any assets.

• “I’m not rich, I don’t need a trust”  Wrong!  If you have minor children, your Will should make provisions for holding your assets in a trust at least until the age of majority (age 18).  Often times, in conversations with clients, we find young adults are not prepared to handle even relatively small amounts of money.  We’ve learned children are better served by having an appropriately appointed Trustee provide for their comfort, care and support as you deem fit. Take a moment to add up the total value of your estate, including life insurance and see if you think your child would be ready to receive his or her share outright.

Proper estate planning involves the teamwork of attorneys, financial planning professionals, and CPA’s. This teamwork is because there needs to be a coordination of estate taxes, income taxes, multi-generational financial planning, life insurance planning and trust planning.  It is these combined efforts that typically create the most effective estate plans.

It’s not too late.

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Eric Davis, Esq.

Elliott & Davis, PC

412.434.4911 x 11

eric@elliott-davis.com

425 First Avenue, First Floor Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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