Berman & Asbel, LLP

Estate planning checklist in Pennsylvania

There are many documents and other items that everyone should include in their estate plan to ensure that it is as comprehensive as possible. For instance, it should include a will that spells out how assets are to be distributed after the testator passes on. Including a durable power of attorney can be helpful as it allows the named trusted individual to manage the principal's affairs in the event of incapacity.

Health care powers of attorney perform a similar function regarding the making of medical decisions. However, creating a comprehensive estate plan may be made easier by creating a revocable living trust. Assets are put into the trust and are managed by the trustee according to the document's instructions. When an individual passes on, the assets may be distributed without the need for probate.

An estate plan may also include letters to family members spelling out how to handle end-of-life decisions or appoint a guardian to take care of that person's children if necessary. Some people prepare a do not resuscitate letter, that they do not want to receive any life-saving care if they stop breathing. This is addressed to health care practitioners and is not to be confused with a medical power of attorney.

Those who are interested in creating an estate plan may wish to seek assistance in doing so. An attorney may be able to help prepare documents such as wills and trusts that adhere to state law and are likely to hold up in court if challenged. A trust may make it easier to avoid the probate process while preserving a family's privacy.

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