What Is Estate Planning and Why Is It Important?

For many who think estates are for the rich and famous, they may be surprised to learn that they actually have one too. When you consider the possessions you own, such as a home, vehicles, expensive silverware set, or work tools from your construction business, you suddenly realize you have an estate. And, when you pass away, none of these things can go with you. 

So, what happens to your checking account or antique cast iron pan collection when you die? You probably know who you want to have your possessions, but how can you be sure your wishes will be carried out? Estate planning is intended to solve both of those problems and more. Read on to learn more about how this process can ensure your Pennsylvania estate benefits your loved ones while minimizing taxes and legal fees on what you leave behind. 

What is Estate Planning?

As we alluded to earlier in this blog, estate planning is essentially making a plan with directions about how your assets should be distributed upon your death. By taking this step now, you will make your death a more bearable process for your surviving loved ones later. 

Estate planning also provides additional guidance for your family, including:

  • Instructions for your medical care and finances should you become incapacitated
  • Planning for the use of any disability income you might have to replace your current income if you are unable to work
  • Business succession
  • Naming guardians for your minor and/or dependent family members you are caring for
  • Provide special needs support for your disabled loved one without jeopardizing their current state benefits
  • Protect your assets from creditors and maximize how much your loved ones receive
  • Put special conditions on distributions for heirs who may not be fiscally responsible
  • Retirement planning, including for long-term care in a facility

These just are just a few of numerous estate planning options for you to take advantage of to provide an ongoing legacy for your loved ones. More importantly, this process is fluid in nature and requires regular reviews to ensure it’s up-to-date with your current life situation. The best way to facilitate this is to team up with a reputable Pennsylvania estate planning attorney in your area. They can provide important insight into the best strategies and trust options for your current assets.

Why Do You Need an Estate Plan?

Now that you understand the purpose of an estate plan, you may still be wondering why you need one. Because life is often filled with unexpected events, it’s essential to plan for every scenario possible. Ideally, you are beginning this process while you’re still young and healthy. But, even if you are just now looking into your options when approaching retirement age, it’s still a wise investment and warrants a consultation with an estate attorney with Antanavage Farbiarz, PLLC.

One of the most important reasons besides making the process of closing your estate easier for your family is that if you die intestate (without a will or trust), Pennsylvania law determines who gets your assets. That’s right. Dying without a valid will in place could mean a relative you don’t know, or worse, don’t like, could end up with your entire estate. 

Worse, if you are suddenly disabled or unable to make decisions independently, without a will in place or power of attorney granted, someone you don’t know could be appointed as your guardian. They will make crucial health decisions on your behalf and probably won’t be aware of your wishes. Worse, if multiple family members request guardianship, this could lead to a bitter dispute that can cause serious familial rifts in the long run. 

Speak with a Skilled Pennsylvania Estate Attorney 

The bottom line is you need an estate plan. While a will alone won’t help your family avoid a costly and sometimes lengthy probate process, at least the court will have a clear guideline of how to distribute your estate. This is important since state intestate succession statutes don’t consider the needs of your surviving family members, disallow others from inheriting your estate, nor make exceptions for minor children. 

Planning for your estate will be one of the best gifts you can leave your loved ones to avoid the emotional trauma dying without one could cause. Get knowledgeable guidance provided by the experienced estate attorneys of Antanavage Farbiarz, PLLC, today. Set up a consultation and learn how our services can help plan your estate and create a lasting legacy for those you care about.