Category: Estates / Wills

Ownership of Joint Accounts vs. Will Expectations

Many times, upon the death of an account holder, issues arise as to who owns a joint account. The rules are straight-forward and are set forth in Pennsylvania’s “Multi-Party Account Act” (the “Act”). An important part of estate planning involves recognizing the results of joint… Continue reading

Whither the Death Tax

With a new President coming and with Republicans to control the House and Senate there is a distinct possibility that the estate tax will be repealed.  Indeed one expert, Michael Graetz, who teaches at Columbia Law School, is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as… Continue reading

Pennsylvania’s New Rules on “Unclaimed Property” and Retirement Accounts

As of September 10, 2016, Pennsylvania’s rules on when a retirement account is viewed as unclaimed property that “escheats” to the Commonwealth underwent significant change. Escheatment is the process by which “abandoned” property falls under the custody and control of the Commonwealth. Upon such transfer… Continue reading

Who Gets What in Intestacy?

We frequently advise clients about the importance of having a will to avoid the effects of the “intestacy” laws, which determine how a decedent’s estate is distributed when there is no will. But what exactly does the Pennsylvania intestacy law provide and is its application… Continue reading

Who Gets What in Intestacy?

We frequently advise clients about the importance of having a will to avoid the effects of the “intestacy” laws, which determine how a decedent’s estate is distributed when there is no will. But what exactly does the Pennsylvania intestacy law provide and is its application… Continue reading

Planning for Out-Of-State Real Estate on Death

Most people’s estates are probated in the state (and county) where the decedent resided. For decedent’s who owned real estate in a state where the decedent does not reside, the situation can be more involved. Typically, such out-of-state holdings will result in probating of the… Continue reading

Misbehaving Agents Under a Power of Attorney

Individuals often question the actions of agents acting under another family member’s power of attorney. Complaints can arise during the course of the family member’s life, but more often the questions seem to arise after a parent passes, when the heirs wonder where the estate… Continue reading

Fiduciary Duties and Retirement Planning

In a recent issue we dealt with a case where an insurance salesman who held himself out as giving investment advice was found to have violated a “fiduciary standard” which he owed a customer. This decision may be part of a growing trend that the… Continue reading

Planning for Your Digital Estate

In the current environment, more and more of our financial and even personal activities are carried on on-line, and more and more data about ourselves is located (sometimes exclusively) on-line. This can prove difficult when a person dies or becomes incapacitated. Activities as varied as… Continue reading

Does a Will Need to be Witnessed?

Not normally, at least in Pennsylvania.  This question comes up surprisingly often and usually in the case where there is a “homemade” will (that is, one prepared without a lawyer). In Pennsylvania the generally applicable signing requirement is that “(e)very will shall be in writing… Continue reading