Category: Estates / Wills

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

The Estate Tax and “Permanency”

Since January 1, 2013, estate planners have been able to advise clients on estate and tax planning issues with greater certainty because certain key aspects of the  inter-related gift, estate and generation skipping taxes were viewed as “permanent”.   As of that date,  the $5,000,000 exemption… Continue reading

What is a Unitrust and Why is it Used?

The typical trust arrangement provides for a beneficiary who receives all the income, usually in the form of interest and dividend during a set period (often his or her life).  Thereafter the assets in the trust are paid over to a “remainderman.”  As a fairly generic… Continue reading

Changes to Pennsylvania Power of Attorney

Along with a will and a health care power of attorney, one of the foundation documents for most peoples’ estate plans is the durable general power of attorney, which allows an agent to act on behalf of the person with respect to the person’s finances… Continue reading

Living Trusts in Pennsylvania

We frequently speak with clients who already have or who are contemplating the creation of a “living trust” or, more formally, a “revocable trust.”  These vehicles are heavily marketed by attorneys and other estate planners as a means of avoiding probate, smoothing out the post-death… Continue reading

Estate Planning for Married Couples on the Move

Our normal process for new estate planning clients is to have them complete an Estate Planning Questionnaire.  Normally, most of the questions on this form arouse no comments.  However one question often does pique the interest of married clients; that is the question of whether… Continue reading

Streamline Your Estate if you Own Out-Of-State Real Estate

Out-of-state real estate often presents an additional obstacle (and cost) for many estates.  When a resident of Pennsylvania dies with an out-of-state property titled solely in his name or with a fractional portion of a property titled to him as “tenant-in-common”, that property or fractional… Continue reading

Estate Taxes are Probably Not Your Problem: Simplify Your Will, Review Your Estate Planning Devices

As we have noted in this newsletter on a number of occasions in the past year and a half, the federal estate tax has become a non-issue for most married couples, and opportunities to simplify estate plans now abound.  In 2014, one individual will be… Continue reading