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Kennett Square Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Intestacy claim illustrates a danger of drafting wills online

One size may not fit all, at least when it comes to pre-printed legal forms. Unfortunately, the heirs in today’s story learned this lesson the hard way.

Specifically, two heirs claimed that the distribution of property not specifically addressed by their aunt should be distributed to them. Their aunt had prepared her willing using an E-Z Legal Form, and included a clause in that document directing how specifically listed items should be distributed. However, the woman had also acquired some money after she made out that will, and the document hadn’t been updated to address how that money should be distributed. 

Advance estate planning is the wisest approach

In the age of the Internet, it should not surprise readers to learn that several websites are available to help individuals with end-of-life planning. According to one reviewer, the approach taken by such sites is analogous to how one might plan for other big events, complete with sample to-do lists, reviews of various companies and service providers, and correspondence templates.

Such online sites may be a good starting point to help individuals begin thinking in general terms about how they might administer their estates. However, an attorney knows that the nuances of estate tax, inheritances and long-term financial planning cannot be captured by a one-size-fits-all approach on an Internet site. 

Reverse mortgage terms may come as a nasty surprise to heirs

One purpose of estate law is to help individuals define how their assets will be distributed upon their death. Taking time to do things right may avoid the nasty surprise facing some beneficiaries of a home that is subject to a reverse mortgage.

Notably, only elders 62 years of age or older may qualify for this type of borrowing arrangement. Under its terms, an elder may borrow against the equity in his or her home, with no repayment obligation until he or she moves or passes away. The option can provide funds to elders experiencing cash flow problems in their retirement. However, that benefit comes with a catch: Heirs may be threatened with foreclosure from the lending company when the loan becomes due.

Speculation arises over estate of late Buffalo Bills owner

Although an estate-planning document may be advisable for everyone, it is practically essential for a business owner. The recent estate questions surrounding the late Ralph Wilson Jr. illustrate this need.

As professional football fans may know, Ralph Wilson Jr. was the sole owner of the Buffalo Bills. His late passing left behind an estate estimated at around $870 million. Depending on whether Wilson Jr. had a will or trust in place, his estate could be liable for estate taxes. 

New law may impact estate planning

Readers of this blog may know that a certain value of their assets is exempt from estate tax. An estate attorney would refer to this value as the exclusion amount. In 2014, that amount is $5,340,000. 

Yet there may be other tax implications or concerns involving the inheritance. In addition, the exclusion amount may not cover all the property within a high asset estate. These and other reasons explain the popularity of trusts. 

Estate planning involves more than just financial concerns

What happens when an individual is overtaken by sudden incapacity? An attorney that specializes in estate planning knows that undesirable consequences may follow, even if loved ones know that the individual would have wanted a different outcome.

For example, if an accident or illness renders an individual unable to take care of his or her own finances, several legal instruments can ensure that the individual’s preferences are still respected. A durable general power of attorney can designate an agent to make decisions concerning purchases, investment accounts, finances and real estate.

The basics of estate planning

While very few residents of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, think of dying suddenly, most realize the need to prepare for any of life's uncertainties. No one wants to leave their family fractured by failing to plan for the future, which is why estate planning was created. Its sole purpose is to provide a stable future for those who will be left behind in case of a loved one's death. Wills, trusts and a power of attorney are some of the most commonly used estate planning tools. Here are some additional tips that can help readers with proper estate planning.

First, an individual should let their loved ones know that they have decided to start estate planning. This person may then choose to include their loved ones in meetings that discuss their assets so that the family members will have an idea of what is at stake.

Can a trust help retirees with distribution of assets?

Discussing death and other unexpected life changes are troubling thoughts for Pennsylvanians. Here in Kennett Square, many residents, and retirees in particular, are now planning their estates to ensure that properties and assets will be distributed among their rightful heirs when they die. However, choosing which estate planning tool best fits a person's situation can be more than a matter of preference.

Trusts are one of the most common estate planning methods in Pennsylvania. A trust allows an individual to transfer property and assets to a trustee, who handles the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries or heirs. The trust maker or "trustor" can create a trust during his or her lifetime, called a living trust. While the trustor is alive, he or she will fulfill the roles of both trustee and beneficiary. The trustor can name additional trustees and add more assets into a trust simply by retitling or modifying the trust.

How wills and trusts aid estate planning

Pennsylvanians know that the future is full of uncertainty, and that the only way to prepare for the worst-case scenarios in life, including incapacitation and death, is to do estate planning. Some people consider estate planning as a tool used exclusively by wealthy individuals. It turns out that anyone who owns an estate - whether a car, a boat or a house - can craft a will and name someone to act as guardian, executor or heir.

A will is probably the most common estate-planning tool. Crafting a will is necessary for people who are the sole owners of certain properties and assets. A last will and testament allow a person to leave detailed orders about how to divide or designate properties and assets to heirs or beneficiaries in the event of death. An individual can also name a guardian in the will, an action usually taken if the will maker has minor children.

Paul Walker's last will can be subject of probate litigation

Local residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania, who enjoy watching the 'Fast & Furious' movie franchise, may still recall the tragic car accident that claimed the life of actor Paul Walker. Following the fatal accident, readers may be curious about the late actor's estate, which has been valued at around $25 million.

Based on a report, Paul Walker had drafted and signed an allegedly valid will in 2001, just when he joined the cast of 'Fast & Furious.' Recently, the actor's final will and testament was filed in Santa Barbara Superior Court, naming Paul Walker's father as the executor, his mother as the guardian of Walker's 15-year-old daughter and the daughter as the sole beneficiary.

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Larmore Scarlett LLP

Larmore Scarlett, LLP
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P.O. Box 384

Kennett Square, PA 19348

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