THIS NEW YEAR, RESOLVE YOUR ESTATE PLANNING
December 15th, 2017 | Terrence J. Herron
New Year’s Resolutions - people have been making them for over 4,000 years. The Ancient Babylonians held celebrations in honor of the new year, which for them started in mid-March when the crops were planted. Promises were made to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. The Babylonians believed that if they kept their word, their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. Those promises are considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions.
In Ancient Rome, Emperor Julius Caesar established January 1st as the beginning of the new year. January was named for Janus, the two-faced god. The Romans believed that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the new year. To honor Janus, the Romans made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
About 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, 80% of those resolutions fail by February.
At HKQ Law, we want to help you to set some life-changing goals and achieve them. Here are the resolutions we suggest:
Make sure your family is secure.
One of the most important things you can provide your family is financial security. HKQ Law attorney Terrence J. Herron points out that “estate planning can be invaluable in meeting that challenge”. Estate planning is strategy and documentation for management and transfer of a person's assets during that person's life and following that person’s demise. 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.
Develop a new plan.
HKQ Law will show you how 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. You’ll also learn how we can assist you in avoiding or reducing the time and costs associated with the probate process.
The methods HKQ Law uses for estate planning include:
- Gift planning
- Financial Powers of Attorney
- Health-care Powers of Attorney
- Living wills
- Long-term health care and Medicaid planning
A Power of Attorney 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.
Don’t wait any longer to develop an estate plan. Life is uncertain. A sudden medical condition can leave you without the ability to make decisions. An unexpected death can impose a financial hardship on your family.
Make an appointment.
Visit HKQ Law to discuss estate planning with an experienced attorney. Call (800) 760-1529 to set up your personalized appointment.