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Do you believe the myths about estate planning?

Estate planning - many people in Pennsylvania may be hesitant to begin the process because they either think that it is too complicated or that they don't need an estate plan. But, are the people who are thinking like this really believe the myths about estate planning?

A recent news article detailed some of the most common myths about estate planning. For starters, there is the myth that all a person needs is a will. While having a will in place is definitely the bedrock of any sound, comprehensive estate plan, there may be assets that are not directly tied to the directions in a will, such as joint bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies. These assets will almost always be distributed outside of the directions contained in a will. Joint bank accounts pass to the surviving joint owners while retirement accounts and life insurance policies pay based on beneficiary designation. 

Different estate planning concerns for millennials

Previous posts on this Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, blog noted that while each of us has a different family and financial situation, almost everyone can benefit from estate planning. Older and younger people benefit from plans detailing how their assets will be distributed when they pass and who will help them during their lifetimes. However, younger people may also need to name guardians and trustees for minor children. There are plenty of benefits for everyone when it comes to estate planning, but the approach to the process may be different, depending on a person's age.

Take, for instance, the generation known as millennials. These younger individuals will need to have all the traditional concerns covered in an estate plan, such as who their heirs will be and who will serve as agents in their powers of attorney, but there may be additional concerns as well. For example, many younger people have an extensive online presence with social media accounts. What happens to these accounts if the person dies? A plan needs to be in place to have these accounts shut down after, potentially, a final post, or even a memorial.

What do adult children need to know about parents' estate plans?

Once estate plans have been prepared by Pennsylvania residents, they usually feel pretty good about completing this important task. They have crafted plans for what will happen to their assets. They have powers of attorney in place, so that a trusted individual can make important medical and financial decisions if they are unable to do so. They have prepared living wills for end-of-life decisions. But, what good is estate planning if no one knows about it? What do parents need to inform their adult children of when it comes to their estate plans?

Many people wait until their senior years to craft estate plans. While previous posts here have pointed out that people of all ages could benefit from estate planning, many people still wait. By the time that many people do estate planning, their children are adults. It is likely that those adult children will be the primary beneficiaries, personal representatives and agents under the estate plans.

Handle assets correctly in estate plan to address long-term care

"Plan for the worst, hope for the best" is a common saying that many Pennsylvania residents likely know. In essence, the saying means that while we can always hope that the best outcome for any given situation will occur, it is prudent to plan in such a way that accounts for a different result. When it comes to estate planning, the saying can be particularly applicable.

Most people in Pennsylvania probably view estate planning as setting up an arrangement for the benefit of family members and close friends -- having a plan for assets after death can make their lives easier and provide crucial direction on the person's wishes. But, assets that will be part of an estate need to be handled in such a way that they can best benefit the planner during life as well, and no other situation needs more advance planning than long-term care.

Tips to avoid financial elder abuse

The “Baby Boom” generation is growing, as an estimated 4 million people retire and begin receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits annually. Amidst all of the change baby boomers go through while getting an estate plan organized, planning ahead for long-term care costs and discussing nursing home options, it may be easy for them to fall victim to a financial scam.

Do you have the right approach to your estate plan?

Many Pennsylvania residents know that they need to have an estate plan but, for one reason or another, simply keep putting it off. Unfortunately, many people view estate plans as just another task to complete, but the reality is that estate planning is one task that may be more important than many others. So, do you have the right approach to your estate plan?

If you do, then you likely see estate planning as a highly-important part of your life and legacy. You should spend the time to research estate planning options on your own in order to familiarize yourself with this area of the law, and then seek the right legal counsel to put it all together for your own unique family and financial circumstances. But, even if you are in the right mindset when it comes to estate planning, there are some mistakes that need to be avoided.

An overview of the probate process

Probate is an unfamiliar process for most Pennsylvania residents. While many may understand some of the basics of other areas of the law, such as criminal law or family law, probate and estate law can be daunting to even the most sophisticated of individuals. An overview of the basics of the probate process can be beneficial for many people.

First and foremost, what is "probate?" Well, probate refers to the legal process by which a person's assets are transferred to other people after that person's death, and the person's "estate" is closed out, with taxes and debts addressed as well. For estates that do not involve a great deal of assets, debts or heirs and beneficiaries, often a "simple" probate process is possible. However, for other estates that include large amounts of assets, funds, debts and tax implications, the probate process can be quite a bit more complex.

Making sure your estate plans include the cost of long-term care

Estate planning will be different for each Pennsylvania resident. Some people will want to include a trust, while others may be satisfied with a simple will and power of attorney documents. Varying needs lead to varying solutions when it comes to estate planning. However, one important area for most people to address in their estate plans is the need for long-term care at some point, including the associated costs of long-term care, which can be quite high.

Lifespans in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are getting longer as people make better choices when it comes to their health, decreased smoking levels and advances in healthcare technology. This is obviously a good thing, but it also means that there are more people of advanced age in our society than ever before. As people get older, they are more likely to need continuing healthcare for certain conditions, illnesses or even injuries, which is where long-term care comes into play.

Are Pennsylvania residents avoiding estate planning mistakes?

Once Pennsylvania residents make the choice - the right choice - to begin crafting a comprehensive estate plan, it is important for them to realize that not just any documents will do. They need to make sure that they have the right documents for their own unique financial and family situations. And, they need to be sure that they avoid some common estate planning mistakes. So, what are the big estate planning mistakes to avoid? Well, as a recent article noted, the big mistakes can be broken down into four particular concerns.

First, don't make the mistake of storing your estate planning documents in a location that is not easily accessible or even unknown to others who will need the documents when the time comes. At the very least, the person who is chosen to be the executor of the estate needs to know where the estate planning documents are and how to access them.

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