Berman & Asbel, LLP

Creating a functional estate plan

When creating an estate plan, it's important that people in Pennsylvania think about a variety of things, including who they want to give their assets to when they pass on. While this can be an important part of estate planning, individuals should also ensure that people named in a will won't be prevented from collecting assets and that heirs are provided these assets in the best manner possible.

It's important to be aware that just because someone is named in a will, it does not necessarily mean that they will have access to the property left to them. Beneficiary designations on things like life insurance policies override what is in a will, so it is essential to be sure that the named beneficiaries match what is in a will.

Another consideration is how to leave assets to heirs. Any property that is left in a will is provided to an individual once probate is completed. However, trusts allow people to do a variety of things that are not possible with a will. Trusts can enable someone to dole out money over a period of time or require that people do certain things before they have access to money.

Along with being able to determine which people will get what assets through wills and trusts, there are also estate planning documents that outline how certain things should be handled while a person is alive. For instance, powers of attorney allow trusted and named individuals to make financial choices for a person when they are not available. Medical powers of attorney let a person make medical decisions when someone cannot do so. A lawyer could explain to someone what each type of estate planning document does.

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