Written By: Brandy Miller | December 21, 2016 | No Comments

Failing to Plan Ahead for Your Estate Can Have Disastrous Results

Berks County Estate Planning Attorney Larry Miller, Jr.Here’s a real story that I was involved in early in my career.  A man in his mid-thirties is married to his true love and has been married for fifteen years.  Together they had worked very hard saving all of their earnings until they could afford their farm. The two of them prepared to spend the rest of their lives living their dream of working together and providing their future children with a quality home with both parents available to play an integral role in their upbringing.

Then this man gets cancer.  Despite being diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer and despite having eight months to prepare for his ultimate demise, this man never writes a will.  Upon his death, his wife finds out that her husband’s parents own fifty percent of the farm under Pennsylvania’s intestacy law (the law mandating where assets go in an estate where there’s no will), and she must sell her home and give half of the profits to his parents.  I can tell you it was devastating to watch as this woman packed her belongings and went out into the world. Lack of Estate Planning denied her and her husband’s hard earned dream farm.

Devastating stories like this demonstrate what not doing essential estate planning can do to those you leave behind.  Upon your death, your loved ones will be facing terrible grief.  Having to take on a legal mess on top of their emotional pain is often too much for people to handle.

Estate Planning

So what do you do?

Wills

The basic answer is draft a Will.  Even the most basic Will makes things so much easier on those you leave behind.  However, drafting a Will may not be sufficient to achieve what you are looking to accomplish.  Often people are looking to save money on taxes, protect their assets from having to be used to pay off nursing home debts, and avoid probate.  Most often a will cannot accomplish all of those goals alone.  Talking to our knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorneys can help you understand the options that are available and make sure the documents you do draft will stand up to any legal scrutiny.

Living Trust (Revocable Trust)

Living Trusts are losing popularity.  That’s because the law no longer exempts Revocable Trusts from having to perform tasks formerly only associated with probate.

Non-Revocable Trusts

Non-Revocable Trusts do accomplish the goals once touted by living trust companies as necessary.  A Non-Revocable Trust can exempt assets from the estate for both taxation and Medicaid considerations. However, Non-Revocable Trusts are subject to “look back periods.”  Look back periods mean that, if the drafter goes into a nursing home or dies within a specific time frame, the trust will not accomplish the task of exempting the assets.  Proper planning allows maximum savings from taxation and nursing home costs. But if you wait until death or placement in a nursing home is imminent, it’s probably too late.

Even Last Minute Planning May Be Beneficial

Nonetheless, even last minute planning can still save some assets.  Do the ones you leave behind a huge favor.  Contact Us Online or Call Us at 610-670-9000 today.  Those left behind will be glad you did.

Miller Law Group Berks County Law Offices in West Lawn, PA

Miller Law Group’s Berks County Law Offices are in West Lawn near Reading and Wyomissing, PA.

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