Our estate planning, probate, and estate administration practice focus on helping clients achieve comprehensive estate planning goals—from the most basic to the most sophisticated level of tax-saving strategies. Ignoring the issue of estate planning will result in an estate being distributed by the probate court in the manner imposed by law. For clients who want to direct the passing of assets at death, name an executor, and keep taxes and expenses to a minimum, estate planning with an experienced attorney is crucial.
Our firm can assist clients in planning for future contingencies, such as death or incapacity, by preparing the necessary documents. For an individual with a moderate estate, estate planning might involve these issues:
- Outright marital gifts
- Outright gifts to children
- Trusts for children
- Ancillary documents
- Durable or general powers of attorney
- Medical powers of attorney
- Living wills (advance medical directives)
- Determining a guardian for children
Although there are no laws that require the assistance of an attorney in estate planning, there are good reasons to hire an attorney with estate planning experience. A generic-form will or trust has probably not taken into account the legal requirements of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It also will not take into account the individual wishes of the testator. In the long run, a “do-it-yourself” will or trust may be more expensive than consulting a lawyer. For example, for a trust to be effective it takes more than simple drafting: the assets must be transferred into it. Without proper legal assistance, most, if not all of the benefits of using a trust can be lost.