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This year, we have faced unprecedented challenges in every aspect of our lives. Covid-19 and its ongoing effects have forced everyone to face a real possibility of an emergency health crisis for not only ourselves but for our loved ones as well. It’s times like these that it’s crucial to make sure that your estate is organized and finalized so that you can focus on keeping yourself safe rather than worrying about whether your loved ones will be taken care of.

Tops Tips used by our PA estate planning attorneys in 2020

The pandemic has forced us to rethink how we approach estate planning this year. Here are our top ten tips for estate planning in Pennsylvania in 2020.

  1. If you pass away without a will in Pennsylvania, your assets will be divided in accordance with state intestacy laws, which will primarily divide your assets among your spouse and children. Finalizing your will ensures that your assets are dispersed according to your plan.
  2. Take some time to consider what ceremonies you’d like to have following your death, and if possible, make arrangements for those events. This will take a great deal of pressure off your loved ones. The Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association has several resources for individuals who want to learn more about their options.
  3. Most retirement accounts have the insured identify a beneficiary to receive the benefit of the life insurance policy. It’s important to confirm that your beneficiaries are up to date and include all individuals you want named on the policy.
  4. Whether you have minor children or pets, it’s a good idea to have a plan for them in place so that they are properly cared for in the event of your passing.
  5. A health care proxy can make decisions related to your healthcare in the event you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own. You can find out more information about Pennsylvania health care proxies and take a look at an example form here.
  6. Like life insurance accounts, many retirement accounts have beneficiaries as well. Take some time to review who your current beneficiaries are and make sure that information is up to date.
  7. It’s not a bad idea to let your closest family members know what your general estate plans are. It’s also a good time to encourage your family members to arrange their affairs as well.
  8. Power of attorney gives an individual authority to manage your financial affairs in the event you are unable to. You can learn more about Pennsylvania’s power of attorney laws and review sample forms on this website.
  9. Today, so much information is stored digitally, so it’s important that someone has access to estate-related files saved on electronic devices. Find someone who you can trust and inform them where you store those files and how to obtain them if needed.
  10. If you have investment accounts that have a “transfer upon death” clause, it is important to make sure that you have identified who you want the account transferred to and that their information remains current.

How to prepare for an estate planning meeting

There will be many things that you will cover in your estate planning meeting, but there are a few things you can do to feel more prepared. First, think about who you want to be the executor of your will, who will be a guardian to your children if they are not adults, and consider who you’d like to give your assets to and how you’d like to divide them.

What questions should I ask my estate planning attorney?

When meeting with an estate planning attorney, it’s important to figure out the scope of his or her practice, the extent of their experience, and the services they provide. A more experienced attorney will be better equipped to guide you through the estate planning process, so don’t be afraid to ask how long they have been practicing estate planning law. Also ask about what estate planning services they provide, such as drafting wills, conducting annual reviews, or executing the plan. Finally, be sure to ask about the anticipated timeline for finalizing documents and completing your plan.

What should I bring to an estate planning meeting?

There are several documents and pieces of information that you can bring to an estate planning meeting, including:

  • Updated bank statements or financial statements
  • Deeds to any properties
  • Any marital/prenuptial agreements
  • Retirement plans
  • A list of individuals you want named in your will and their contact information
    Information related to investment accounts

An attorney can help you identify important documents as well. If you forget to bring items, don’t worry, as your documents can always be revised or updated.

How can MBM Law help with your PA estate planning in 2020?

At MBM Law, our experience with estate planning has helped countless individuals set plans in place to ensure their loved ones are taken care of. In addition to helping individuals draft wills and create trusts, we also assist with guardianship proceedings, business succession, and distribution of estates. Contact us today to find out how one of our estate planning lawyers can help you.

Lawrence J. Maiello
Lawrence J. Maiello

Lawrence Maiello serves individuals, families, and business owners in the preparation of a wide array of estate planning documents, wills, and trusts.