As you look forward to your retirement and the associated benefits, there are a number of other responsibilities you need to take care of that may be less exciting to plan for, but are nonetheless important, including drawing up a will, understanding the probate process as well as trusts. Here are some of the quick facts you need to get started.
What does it do? Wills are a vital part of preparing for end of life questions, including dividing your possessions and assets to family members or other individuals you deem deserving. This includes the care of any minor children you may have. Without this estate planning document to specify your wishes for your children or your property, it will be dealt with by the court default laws rather than your own intentions.
What’s the cost? While preparing wills can indeed be expensive, it is not necessarily so, as there is no uniform price associated. This depends on your own needs and wishes, and a free consultation with an accomplished lawyer should be arranged before receiving the final cost of this important step in your estate planning.
Can I change my mind? The short answer is yes, as wills are not officially filed until the death of the person about whom they are written. If your life circumstances change you will be able to adjust the contents of your will accordingly, and indeed should do so as often as you deem necessary to fully reflect your wishes for your estate and possessions, as well as end of life care.
What does it do? There are many types of trusts, each with their own purposes and legal restrictions, which are used to transfer your property and assets to be managed by a person you entrust with their care. These can be created for use while you are still living, or for better management of inheritance for your heirs after your death.
Common misconceptions: One increasingly popular type of trust is a ‘living trust’, which is useful for many people but may not be in the best interests for everyone. It does not replace other necessary estate planning documentation, and is revocable at any time if you so choose. It does not release your descendants from paying taxes on your estate, does not exclude your other documents from being probated, further explained below. This is not the best option for all people, and if you believe you are being aggressively marketing into one that is not in your best interest, do confer first with a trusted attorney before making any long term commitments.
What does it do? The probate process takes place when an individual need their assets to be distributed following death, and is often run by an individually appointed ‘executor’, or ‘administrator’ if court-appointed. This is a process required by Pennsylvania state law and is the most efficient way to distribute assets following a person’s death.
What’s the cost? There are multiple fees throughout the probate process, including for filing, advertising, and additional taxes. Talking with a lawyer is the best way to discover the most accurate listing of your individual costs during the probate process.
If you are seeking professional help in your estate planning, as we highly recommend, call us at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox today for a free phone consultation at 814-833-1987 today to get started.