Estate Planning involves the preparation of a plan for the administration and disposition of one’s property before and after death, including Wills, Trusts, Gifts, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. In more complex cases, other Estate Planning and tax savings documentation are used such as Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, Personal Residence Trusts, Charitable Giving either directly or through Charitable Trusts, Grantor Retained Income Trusts and Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts.
Estate Planning is also typically done to eliminate uncertainties of administration of a probate estate and maximize the value of the Estate to your beneficiaries by reducing taxes and other expenses. In many instances, Trustees or Guardians are designated for minor children and/or beneficiaries with an incapacity. In the event that a party has an incapacitated child, Special Needs Trust are utilized to minimize the use of those assets while maximizing the benefit of governmental benefit.
As part of one’s Estate and Business Planning, business owners should consider business succession planning. This includes Buy-Sell Agreements between partners, shareholders or limited liability company members to provide direction at the time of death, retirement, or disability of an owner.
From a medical and mental capacity standpoint, most Estate Plans contain durable Power of Attorneys which provide for a specified agent to handle the financial and personal affairs of the creator of the Power of Attorney. Living Wills are documents that specify directives concerning end of life decisions and permit you during your life time to express your intention about being maintained or not maintained on life support systems if you are ever in a condition where life support is the only process sustaining your life. In contrast, a Durable Medical Power of Attorney gives the Agent the power to make medical decisions relative to your medical care during your life time.
The larger one’s Estate is in terms of value, the more sophisticated the plan needs to be in order to maximize the value of the estate to your beneficiaries and minimize the taxes due by one’s Estate. In Pennsylvania, Estates will be subject to Federal Estate Taxes (due the IRS) if applicable, Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes and Probate Costs. Effectively planned estates, reduce these taxes and costs while ensuring your assets passed to your beneficiaries in the manner you wish.