Passing on your estate to your heirs and beneficiaries is a primary element of estate planning. If you want to ensure your family or favorite organizations can inherit your property after your death, you need to plan ahead. Estate planning will require you to make several decisions about what tools you want to use to pass on your estate. A will may be enough to meet one person’s needs, but a trust may be perfect for another person’s situation. If you or a family member need assistance determining which estate planning tools to use, you should speak with an experienced Chester County estate planning attorney.
The attorneys at Herr Potts and Potts are prepared to help you identify your unique estate planning needs and recommend solutions that are perfect for you. Our team of dedicated attorneys have worked with clients in Chester County and across southeast Pennsylvania and would be happy to work with you. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at (610) 254-0114 or reach us online.
Why Do I Need a Will?
The purpose of a will is to ensure that after your death, your estate is distributed to the named people (beneficiaries) in the document. When you create a will, you should also choose a personal representative, also known as an executor, to administer your estate.
An executor is responsible for administering and distributing the estate after the will creator’s (testator) death. This means that an executor must complete tasks like informing creditors and beneficiaries of the testator’s death and paying off debts or filing taxes before distributing the assets named in the will. Sometimes, it is wise to choose an alternate executor just in case the original executor is not available.
If you do not have a will at the time of your death, this is known as dying intestate. Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws distribute your estate by first offering the estate to a surviving spouse or children of the deceased person (decedent). If the decedent did not have a spouse or children, then the estate will be given to his or her parents. If the parents of a decedent are no longer alive, then Pennsylvania will continue to identify relatives to receive your estate. Unfortunately, a person’s estate may eventually end up in the hands of estranged relatives if no immediate family members are alive or present to inherit the property.
When distributing a decedent’s estate, Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws do not consider the special needs of any person in your family. For example, if you have a child who suffers from a disability Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws does not acknowledge that factor when distributing your estate. This is why it is important to have a will to avoid your estate passing on to parties you may not have a good relationship with or even know.
Types of Trusts
A trust is another type of estate planning tool that allows you to set conditions a beneficiary must meet to receive the trust’s contents. While there are several types of trusts that can be used to fill a variety of needs, there are two common categories of trusts that are typically used. These two categories are testamentary trusts and living trusts.
Testamentary trusts are used to transfer property into a trust after the death of the trust’s creator (grantor). A testamentary trust allows a grantor to transfer their entire estate or a piece of their estate to the trust. This type of trust is usually used for the benefit of the grantor’s children or other relatives who possess disabilities. The grantor may also set specific conditions for a beneficiary to meet before they can access the trust. For example, a beneficiary may only be allowed to access the trust if they attend college.
A living trust can exist in two different forms. You can create a revocable living trust or an irrevocable living trust. A revocable living trust allows the grantor to revoke or alter the terms of the trust at any time after its creation. An irrevocable living trust bars a grantor from revoking or altering any terms after its creation.
If you need to know more about wills and trusts or other methods of estate planning, you should contact an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Chester County, PA Estate Planning Lawyers Are Here To Help You
If you or a family member need estate planning advice, you should consult with an experienced Chester County estate planning lawyer. At Herr Potts and Potts, our lawyers understand the desire to plan your estate so that your family and close friends can inherit your property. Our lawyers are here to help you achieve all of your estate planning goals. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our diligent lawyers, call us at (610) 254-0114.