When it comes to estate planning, crafting a will is not a one-time act when circumstances can arise that require one to reevaluate and change previous decisions. There are multiple reasons a Pennsylvania resident might need to alter a will.
Although people in Pennsylvania may have heard of a living will, they may not understand what it is or what it involves. In contrast to a regular will, a living will governs how a person will be treated medically in the event he or she is no longer able to make decisions due to being incapacitated.
Pennsylvania residents may be interested in a recent piece discussing some of the reasons why they may want to consider adding a living trust to their comprehensive estate plan. This type of trust has several advantages and drawbacks that should be considered.
As questions swirled in Pennsylvania and across the nation about Philip Seymour Hoffman's reasoning behind his failure to name his children in his trust, the actor reportedly stated that he was concerned that his children would turn into "trust fund kids." He left everything to his girlfriend, the mother of all three children. His attorney repeatedly advised him to set up revocable trusts for his children. However, he did not heed his suggestions or those of his accountant.
Making a will can be a great way to ensure that money and other assets are distributed to those that the creator of the will wants to receive them. However, it is possible to have a will invalidated in a Pennsylvania court for a variety of reasons. There are three key factors which could serve to undermine the document.
Estate planning documents suited to your situation such as a will, a revocable trust, durable powers of attorney, guardianships and health care directives are imperative in planning for your family’s future and preventing lengthy and contentious court battles after your death. Estate planning is essential in looking out for loved ones and helping reduce disputes over assets.
A judge reviewing the validity of a will and determining how to distribute a woman’s assets said that the case, which involved a “E-Z Legal Form”, should be a cautionary tale to others. The will in this case was printed using a website selling forms for individuals to fill out themselves, so the woman created her own will. Without the legal expertise or guidance to know she was missing something, she did not include what is known as a residuary clause, which is a line in the will that provides for any leftovers or overlooked assets not specifically mentioned. The form will had instructed the woman to list all of her assets, which she left to her sister or if her sister was not alive, then to her brother.
Perhaps the number one rule in estate planning: put it in writing. If you're an asset owner or a potential heir, it is never a good idea to rely on verbal promises in matters of estate planning. Case in point: the estate of Marlon Brando. The famed actor died in 2004, and by 2009, two dozen legal disputes had erupted around his estate.
For most Pennsylvania readers a first encounter with estate planning comes when an older member of the family passes away. For many, this means children or teens will learn about a will or a trust when a grandparent or great grandparent passes away. However, this experience might not leave us with a lot of detail about what estate planning really is and how it will apply to our own lives. It can be useful, then, to look at real estate plans that make the news to find out more about the process and learn some important dos and don’ts.
A couple created wills together back in 1999 and like a lot of people, put the wills away and did not revisit them for quite a long time. At the time that the wills were created, the couple had given each document identical terms so that there would be no confusion about where property and other assets should go. Unfortunately, at the time that the wills were signed and witness a mistake at their lawyer’s office resulted in each signing the other’s will. The switched signatures were not discovered until after the second of the two spouses passed away in 2006.