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Make Estate Planning Part of Your New Year’s Resolution


It’s the start of a new year. Many people see a new year as a time to make improvements or resolve to complete important tasks. At least 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight is the most common resolution, according to Statistics Brain. Getting organized the is second most popular. Americans seeking to get their life organized in 2017 may want to consider estate planning.  Estate planning can help one analyze their current financial situation and organize their assets so they are properly distributed upon death.

Drafting a will is a common part of estate planning. Legal-Lookout recently reported that more than half of all American’s don’t have a will. Individuals hoping to get their life organized in 2017 may want to think about a will.

Without a will, there is no way to ensure that a person’s assets are distributed to their loved ones as intended.  When a Pennsylvania resident dies without a will, the state will determine what happens to their children, money and assets.  Assets are not just passed along to the next of kin.  The estate is divided among living relatives-even when there is a surviving spouse, a previous post explained.

Working with an estate planning attorney to write a will can force an individual to organize their estate and plan for the future wellbeing of their loved-ones.  A will can ensure that debts are paid and remaining assets are protected and distributed to loved-ones as intended.

Someone who already has a will can take estate planning a step further by creating a trust.  Fidelity explained that a trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party (trustee) to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. Estate planners have manly different options when arranging a trust. One can specify how and when his or her assets will be transferred to the beneficiaries and ensure the money is used for good purposes.

Trust beneficiaries can gain access to their inheritance more quickly than assets transferred through a will.  Trusts are not subject to the probate process. In addition to the quick transfer process, there is another advantage to establishing a trust. Because trusts are not subject to probate, establishing such an arrangement can reduce the heir’s estate taxes and save time and court fees. Fidelity suggests that a trust can also protect the assets in question from creditors or beneficiaries who may lay claim to the estate.

Many people fail to plan for the future because they don’t know that planning techniques exist to protect their assets. Others delay estate planning because they feel they will have time for it later.  However, death is unexpected. No one knows how much longer they will have to live.  While everyone is making and breaking New Year’s resolutions, use this time of new beginnings to start planning for your family’s future. Make estate planning part of your New Year’s resolutions.  Contact a Pennsylvania estate lawyer to discuss your will and other estate planning options.

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