Estate Planning Attorneys Protect the Interests of Pennsylvania Residents
Established Allison Park lawyers create wills, trusts and medical directives
A comprehensive estate plan answers more than the question of what happens when you die, and is comprised of several documents beyond merely the last will and testament. A comprehensive plan provides peace of mind to you and your loved ones throughout significant periods in your life, such as marriage, divorce, having children, periods of incapacity or incompetency, death of a spouse or a spouse being admitted into a long-term care facility. At Abernethy & Hagerman, LLC, our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined legal experience and use what we’ve learned to provide valuable guidance to residents of Allegheny, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
What are the benefits of estate planning?
Our attorneys take great care to draft legally enforceable estate planning documents that allow you to maintain control over your assets and medical treatment, including:
- Wills — A last will and testament takes effect only after the individual dies. In this document, you can declare who has the right to inherit your probate assets. These assets may include real property, personal property, a vehicle, checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, business interests, and a safe deposit box. In your will, you name an executor who is tasked with properly administering your estate.
- Trusts and other advanced estate planning strategies — Depending on your particular circumstances and goals, you might opt against using a standard will to dispose of your property upon your death. Though Pennsylvania’s probate requirements are not as burdensome as those in other states, some people create a revocable living trust to serve as the primary means of leaving assets to loved ones. If the total amount of what you own comes close to the estate tax threshold, it might be wise to consider establishing an irrevocable trust or formulating a strategy involving gifts to reduce the overall value of your estate. We work with you in order to ascertain exactly what tools you need in order to achieve your estate planning goals.
- Medical powers of attorney — In Pennsylvania, the Advanced Healthcare Directive (AHD) is a two-part document. The first part is the Medical Power of Attorney which gives your agent the ability to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself. This document also waives medical privacy laws so that your agent can communicate directly with your doctors and review medical records on your behalf.
- Living wills — The other part of the AHD is commonly referred to as a “living will.” This document takes effect when you are unable to communicate with your healthcare professionals and you are in terminal condition. While unpleasant to think about, by completing this document, your doctors and family members must legally abide by your wishes regarding extraordinary measures that might prolong your life. Completing a living will should reduce the possibility of family questions about your wishes under those circumstances.
- Life insurance and other methods of probate avoidance — Several types of assets are not transferred through the probate process. When one owner dies, jointly held accounts and real estate automatically become the sole property of the owner who is still living. Investments where a contingent beneficiary is named shift to that person when the holder passes away. Also, life insurance proceeds go to the policy beneficiaries rather than becoming part of the decedent’s estate.
No cookie-cutter form can properly reflect your values or address your unique circumstances. Our attorneys learn about your situation and then tailor each document to accomplish your objectives.
When should you update your estate plan?
Your will and other estate planning documents should be kept in a safe place, but not locked away forever. Aside from irrevocable trusts, the legal instruments you use to protect your interests can be revised. It’s wise to make periodic reviews to determine if changes in your health, finances or personal relationships justify an adjustment to your estate planning strategy. Our firm assists with the review process and can draft any revisions, codicils or new documents that support your current goals.
Contact an accomplished Pennsylvania estate planning lawyer for a consultation
Abernethy & Hagerman, LLC offers knowledgeable guidance on a full range of estate planning issues for Western Pennsylvania clients. To make an appointment to discuss your goals and options, please call 412-486-6624 or contact us online. Our office is in Allison Park.