ARE YOU PLANNING TO PROTECT YOUR ESTATE FOR YOUR FAMILY?
January 31st, 2017 | Terrence J. Herron
Estate planning is strategy and documentation for management and transfer of a person's assets during that person's life and at and after death. An estate includes real estate, stocks and other securities, bank accounts, personal property (e.g., automobiles and jewelry) and intangible property (e.g., trademarks.) Insurance policies are also important in estate planning.
The goals of estate planning are to ensure that your assets are transferred to those you wish to receive them in a timely fashion, while minimizing the amount of taxes that need to be paid on the transferred property, and avoiding or reducing the time and costs associated with the probate process.
The attorneys at HKQ Law help you achieve those goals by using a number of methods, including:
- Gift planning
- Financial Powers of Attorney
- Health-care Powers of Attorney
- Living wills
- Long-term health care and Medicaid planning
A Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that is enables a person (the “principal”) to grant legal authority to another person (the “agent”) to make property, financial and other legal decisions for the principal.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that gives an agent the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate such decisions. A living will (also known as an advance health care directive) is a document that provides specific instructions about what medical treatments should or should not be performed for end of life situations.
In Pennsylvania, the cost of long term care can easily exceed $100,000 per year. The expenses can be covered by Medicare, long-term care insurance, private payment, Veteran’s benefits or Medicaid. HKQ Law can help you and your family determine your best options. With Medicaid planning, you may be able to qualify for Medicaid more quickly.
Gift planning can help eliminate or reduce gift taxes as you make gifts to assist family members while you are alive. (Pennsylvania does not tax gifts)
Trusts facilitate the transfer of legal ownership of property to a person or an institution to manage the property for the benefit of another person. A trust can replace or supplement wills, or assist in the management of property during a person’s life. HKQ Law can help you set up revocable or irrevocable trusts so that your assets are placed in a trust for tax-reduction purposes, asset protection according to your intentions, not only during your life, but also after you pass away.
A will is, quite possibly, the most important component of an estate plan. It is a legal document by which you designate the people who will receive your assets after you pass away. HKQ Law can help you prepare your will so that all of your wishes are upheld, including the appointment of legal guardians for your minor children. (If a guardian is not named in a will, a court may appoint someone.) The absence of a will leaves an estate "intestate," in which case probate court must divide up the estate among surviving relatives according to the law, rather than your wishes. If you have no relatives or they can’t be located, your estate will ultimately go to the government. If you have a will, it is also important to review it periodically to make sure it’s accurate and up to date.
You have worked hard – make sure your assets are protected for yourself, your family and future generations. Make plans to talk with the attorneys at HKQ Law.