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Understanding your options in a comprehensive estate plan

Most people probably know that they should have an estate plan, but many are reluctant to dive into this process because they believe it might be too complicated. But, while there may be complications to overcome and difficult decisions to make in the estate planning process, it is well worth the time and effort.

For starters, Pennsylvania residents should understand their options when it comes to putting together a comprehensive estate plan. As many of our readers know, the first option is usually a will. A will is a document that will spell out any number of wishes or desires that the planner has for what will happen when the plan is implemented, such as who will be the executor of the estate and how assets will be divided among family members. Everyone should have a will; it is not just for the wealthy. When a person passes away without a will, a court must make decisions about the estate and relatives must make decisions about family heirlooms and other sentimental items. The result is often very different from what the deceased would have wanted, and because court expenses come out of the estate, it almost always means less of the estate ultimately goes to the family.

Next, some people will want to consider the benefits of a trust. A typical trust is an arrangement in which the ownership of a person's assets is transferred into the name of the trust and are, thereby, distributed to beneficiaries as designated.

Lastly, any comprehensive estate plan should usually include power of attorney documents: one to designate someone to make financial decisions and another to designate an individual to make medical decisions. These documents won't come into play unless the planner is incapacitated and unable to make such decisions. For more information about how our law firm might be able to help you begin the estate planning process, please visit our website.

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