Benefits of Working with an Estate Planning Attorney
Read this list and learn:
How We Add Value / How We Are Different
Where will you find all of these features and benefits in one place? Not in pre-printed forms or software packages. You won’t find all of them at many other law firms that advertise estate planning. We invite you to compare us to the alternatives.
1. An Estate Planning Questionnaire designed to capture important estate planning information and spot issues that need attention.
1. Organizes information required for a thorough review of your needs.
2. An attorney who really cares about doing a good job for you.
2. More likely to get an estate plan that meets your needs and will work the way you intend.
3. Discussion of your estate planning, goals and objectives.
3. Helps you, working with one of the attorneys, to chose from the myriad estate planning options and tools currently available, and design a plan that meets your particular goals and objectives.
4. A thorough analysis of your estate as it now exists, including titling of assets and beneficiary designations.
4a. Avoids unintended consequences leading to loss of assets, such as mandatory payout rules and unnecessary taxes.
4b. Helps ensure consistency in your estate planning—that is, that your assets will pass to your intended recipients.
5. Discussion of distribution of your estate and contingent plans for the unexpected.
5. Avoids unintended consequences that you may not have considered and would not like to see, such as:
- A grandchild getting a large inheritance at age 18
- All your money going to your son-in-law
- All your money going to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and so on
6. Examination of special concerns regarding your heirs: disability; under age 18; spend-thrift or addiction problems; possible divorce; and how these can be addressed.
6. Avoids unintended consequences that you may not have considered and would not like to see, such as:
- A disabled son or daughter becoming disqualified from health benefits under Medicaid
- A spouse or other relative on Medicaid having to spend down some or all of your estate
- A substantial portion of your child’s inheritance going to a former in-law in a divorce settlement
7. Liquidity analysis: look at whether there are funds to pay taxes and expenses upon your death.
7. Avoids potentially devastating loss of wealth due to cash flow problems after your death. (To read an example involving the loss of more than 80% of the value of an IRA, click here.)
8. Discussion of a will versus revocable living trust; what suits your circumstances?
8. Receive an informed opinion about which vehicle would better suit your goals and circumstances. Peace of mind in knowing you’ve made the right choice. Avoiding unnecessary costs, hassle, etc.
9. Analysis of your current estate planning documents.
9. Ensure that existing documents are complete, current, and will achieve your objectives without unintended negative consequences.
Documents Tailored to Your Needs
10. Will or trust tailored specifically to meet your individual circumstances.
10a. Peace of mind knowing your estate planning documents will do what you intend and help you meet your objectives.
10b. You haven’t wasted money on an off-the-shelf, fill-in-the-blanks document that fails to address your particular needs.
10c. Things that could go wrong anticipated and addressed, to the extent reasonably possible.
11. Precise language in will or trust to indicate:
- Who your estate passes to and how
- Who gets which of your belongings
- How taxes should be apportioned among beneficiaries
11. Avoids uncertainty; family fights; unfairness. Things will go smoothly and be easy for your surviving family. (To read an example of a mistake to avoid, click here.)
12. Trust provisions when necessary.
12. Useful for such goals as:
- Avoiding rates of up to 55% on Federal Estate Tax
- Providing for a disabled family member
- Providing for young children if both parents die
- Providing for family members who suffer addictions, or who have an inability to manage large sums of money
- Trust for young relatives (children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews) so that they receive their inheritance at an age you feel is appropriate
- Providing for beloved pets during your lifetime and when you die
13. Self-proving will provisions.
13. No need for your executor to find the people who witnessed your will and have them attest to your signature. Hopefully, probate will not occur until many years from now. Who knows what will become of witnesses in the meantime? A self-proving will is accepted by the Register of Wills with no need for any witnesses to appear or file affidavits.
14. Provide broad powers for your executor.
14. Empower your executor to take whatever measures are necessary to settle your estate, even the unexpected.
15. Security measures in wills.
15. Guards against later alteration of your will provisions.
16. Power of Attorney tailored specifically to meet your individual circumstances.
16a. Peace of mind knowing your estate planning documents will do what you intend and help you meet your objectives.
16b. You haven’t wasted money on an off-the-shelf, fill-in-the-blanks document that fails to address your particular needs.
16c. Things that could go wrong anticipated and addressed, to the extent reasonably possible.
16d. Avoids guardianship (in most cases), saving you additional attorney fees; premiums for posting bond; delays of 30 days or more when you become incapacitated; ongoing attorney fees and time spent by your guardian in filing reports, petitions, and accountings with the Court.
16e. Allows asset-protection strategies if you need Medicaid benefits.
17. Power of Attorney nominates agent as guardian.
17. In the unlikely event that you would need a guardian, you have more say in the Court’s selection of who your guardian would be.
18. Power of Attorney contains special provisions to facilitate Medicaid planning.
18. Provides added asset protection for your spouse, disabled child, caregiver child, or other loved ones if you need nursing care and apply for Medicaid.
19. Health Care Directives complying with Pennsylvania Act 169 of 2006 and addressing HIPAA Privacy Regulations.
19. Remember Terry Schiavo? How about Karen Ann Quinlan? Or Nancy Cruzan? Avoid family fights, guilt, burden. Avoid indignity of a “life” dependent on machines and feeding tubes.
20. Ensure proper execution of documents.
20. Ensures that your documents are valid and enforceable. (To read an example of a will invalidated for easily made error, click here.)
21. Follow-up advice on where to store various documents; who should receive copies; how and when to review your documents; instructions for survivors.
21a. Make sure those who need copies of your documents have them, or can get to them readily.
21b. Helps you (or your family members) find the documents when needed.
21c. Helps you to know when to review and update your documents.
21d. Makes things easier for your survivors after you die.
Service and Sales
22. Prompt Service: Drafts within a week; signing appointment within a month; and originals bound and delivered (with copies) to you within days after signing or the completion of funding. (Expedited service available in emergency cases.)
22. Value and peace of mind received sooner.
23. Value in proportion to the fees you pay us for our services.
23. We strive to give you a plan that:
- Suits your individual circumstances, and
- Is designed for the highest likelihood of achieving your goals in an uncertain future
24. Affordable price.
24a. You don’t pay the high rates often associated with high-end firms.
24b. Nor will you be a “loss-leader” client for a firm concerned mainly with building up a store of estate administration cases, that may be billed on a percentage or other costly basis.
25. Home and nursing home visits available (for additional charge).
25. Services are available to those who can’t get out.
An often overlooked benefit of professional estate planning: avoiding mistakes that ruin your best intentions. Here are just a few examples: Well, it looked like the right place to sign… In 1962, George Glace signed one of the blank spaces of a pre-printed legal form as follows: “I, , of Sunbury, Pa., of the County of […]
Despite our “elder law” moniker, we frequently write estate plans people of all ages. When I see parents whose children are minors, I make sure to address two specific issues that are usually not important with elderly clients. If you parent minor children, make sure your will addresses these issues too. Nominate a guardian. Who will […]
Having a power of attorney (or POA) is at least as important as having a will. As people’s lifespans have increased, many spend more years than ever with a weakened ability to manage their own affairs and increasingly rely on others.