PROTECTING YOUR ASSETS, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR WISHES
June 5th, 2018
You’ve worked hard for everything you have. HKQ Law Attorney Joe Kluger promises that “No one will work harder than us to protect your assets – for yourself and for your family.”
HKQ Law will discuss your unique needs then start by setting goals. Then, we’ll help you achieve those goals through our Estate Planning and Administration services. We can utilize a number of methods, including:
- Trusts (Revocable and Irrevocable)
- Gift planning
- Financial Powers of Attorney
- Health-care/Medical Powers of Attorney
- Living wills
- Long-term health care and Medicaid planning
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 for asset protection and tax-reduction purposes, not only during your life, but also for after you pass away. There are two broad categories of trusts, "testamentary trusts" and "living trusts." The former transfers property into the trust only after the death of the grantor. A living trust, sometimes referred to as an "inter vivos" trust, commences during the life of the grantor. It may be designed to continue after his or her death. A living trust can be "revocable" or “irrevocable." There are a number of specialized trusts, including: A-B trusts, charitable trusts, QTIP trusts, education trusts, life insurance trusts, pet trusts, special needs trusts, spendthrift trusts and payable on death trusts.
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, but there is a federal gift tax. The person who makes the gift files the gift tax return, if necessary, and pays any tax. If the gift is more than the annual gift tax exclusion amount ($15,000 in 2018), the giver must file a gift tax return.
A will is the most well-known estate plan component and quite possibly the most important one. This legal document enables you to designate those who will receive your assets after you pass away. HKQ Law can help you prepare your will so that all of your wishes are carried out – including the appointment of legal guardians for your minor children. (If a guardian is not named in a will, a court may appoint someone.) Your will allows you to appoint a personal representative (executor) to administer your estate. (In the absence of an executor, the Register of Wills appoints an administrator.) Estate administration involves gathering the assets of the estate, paying the decedent's debts, filing inheritance tax returns and Federal estate tax returns, as applicable and distributing the remaining estate assets. (HKQ Law can assist you with estate deeds, Pennsylvania inheritance tax, Federal Estate tax and contested wills.)
The absence of a will leaves an estate "intestate," in which case the law of intestate succession dictates how to divide up the estate among surviving relatives, rather than your wishes. If you already have a will, it is also important to have an estate planning attorney review it periodically to make sure it’s accurate and up to date, as the laws change frequently (including the most recent Federal Estate tax law changes in 2018). Your will should be updated after a major life change such as a marriage, divorce, death of an heir, birth of a potential heir, significant changes in your financial situation, acquisition of new assets and changes in tax laws.
A Financial Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that 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 power of attorney can be springing or non-springing, which determines if the document can be used after signing or only after the principal is incapable of handling their own affairs.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that gives an agent the authority to make health care decisions for you as well as having access to HIPAA information.
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. This spares the family from making difficult decisions during a very stressful time.
Long-term health care can easily cost over $100,000 per year in Pennsylvania. The expenses can be covered by Medicare, long-term care insurance, private payment, Veteran’s benefits or Medicaid. HKQ Law, through its Elder Law Group, can help you and your family determine your best options. With Medicaid planning, we may be able to help you qualify for Medicaid more quickly.
The Estate Plan that we create for you will help 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.
Call (800) 760-1529 to schedule an appointment to discuss creating a new Estate Plan, or having HKQ Law review your existing plan.