Category: Estates / Wills

Life Insurance Planning And Estate Taxes

Who should be the owner and beneficiary of your life insurance policy? The answer depends on tax and property considerations and on what it actually means to be the owner of the policy. A life insurance policy is issued to an “applicant” who may be… Continue reading

The Importance of a Will

In 2017 AARP published an article on a study that found that sixty percent of adult Americans do not have a will.  What this statistic implies from state to state varies in the detail.  However, on a general level we can state what it means… Continue reading

The Spousal Elective Share

For a variety of reasons, some unintentional and others very intentional, a surviving spouse can find himself or herself excluded from his or her spouse’s will. In such circumstances, Pennsylvania law provides for a “spousal elective share,” which allows the surviving spouse to “take against… Continue reading

The Estate Tax and Non-Citizen Spouses

One of the most important tools used in federal estate tax planning is the marital deduction. This deduction normally provides an unlimited deduction for any transfers made to the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, this deduction is not available when the surviving spouse is a non-citizen. The… Continue reading

Estates and Installment Sale Obligations

In our estates practice we frequently find debts held in an estate that are owed by a family member of the decedent. Frequently these loans are forgiven or are distributed out to the debtor (usually a child of the decedent) pursuant to the terms of… Continue reading

Charitable Remainder Trusts

For many years the charitable remainder trust has been a popular vehicle for charitably minded individuals who are not quite ready to make outright gifts of assets. These trusts essentially provide for a lifetime (or other long-term) stream of payments to the donor (or other… Continue reading

Unsigned Wills and Attorney Liability

Wills and estate documents are not always signed before death makes its inevitable visit.  This is a recurring problem, and for law firms that plan estates it is not uncommon that reminders must be sent to clients regarding the status of the unsigned documents.  Usually… Continue reading

Planning for Your Digital Estate

For better or worse, an increased number of our financial and personal activities are conducted and logged on-line. This can prove difficult when a person dies or becomes incapacitated. Activities as varied as the relatively unimportant maintenance (or shutting down) of a Facebook account, accessing… Continue reading

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