Many Pennsylvania residents use the beginning of tax season to also reevaluate their overall estate plan. Families can be left in a very precarious situation when a member dies unexpectedly and much of their personal property is exposed to the probate process that can include extensive tax recovery and potential claims from creditors, not to mention other family members who may claim the property. Cases can get complicated and extend well beyond the probation period. This can be alleviated by conducting a thorough evaluation of all personal assets and some other aspects of family life at the beginning of each year.
Updating a will
One of the first elements of an estate plan reassessment is the standard will. While many families will have a considerable amount of assets already protected by trusts, there can still be a large portion of personal wealth that could be exposed. This is particularly true for those with earnings from investments and personal income. In addition, those receiving workers comp or personal injury settlements will need to protect assets as well even when they are not taxed at transfer. Assets build over time, and each year accumulated assets should be assessed for protective financial measures. Everyone should be focusing on estate planning at least annually.
Non-financial aspects of a will
Finances are not the only element of a well-developed estate plan. Those with minor dependent children have a specific need to address if they pass unexpectedly. Who will care for the children? Guardianship is an essential issue when this is being evaluated. Will the children inherit assets directly and immediately, or would the assets be held in trust until the children become adults? These are not decisions to be taken lightly, and it is always best to be prepared because state law could result in a situation that very few family members want after the fact.
Pennsylvania estate planning attorneys understand the need for regular reassessment of wealth distribution for all individuals in the event they pass unexpectedly. State law is not always kind, and there are strategic steps every asset holder can take to protect their families legally.