Friday, December 31, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Eleven

If the Will is not properly executed, it will be invalid. In Pennsylvania, the Will is valid if in writing and signed at the end. Witnesses are NOT required unless the signature is an X. These are the minimal legal requirements. But, you want to go further.

The drafter of your Will, ie. your attorney, should be present at the execution to make sure all goes well. It is also very wise to have witnesses (2) and a notary. With all of these formalities, your Will can with stand challenges applicable to improper execution.

Contact us at for expert Probate, Estate Planning, Elder Law and Business Succession Planning advice.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Ten

Many Wills unfortunatly fail to provide appropriately for minor beneficiaries. How do you want the property left to minors handled? The guardian named over the person of the child does not necessarily provide such guardian with rights to administer the assets left the child.

1. Do you want a minor child to get all assets left to him/her at 18 years of age? If yes, then name a guardian of the property.

2. Do you want a minor child to get all assets left to him/her at 21 years of age? If yes, then name a custodian of the property. Not only is the age higher but there is more flexibility provided a custodian.

3. Do you eant a minor child to get all assets left to him/her over a period of time beyond 21? If yes, then a Trust would be best. The terms and conditions of the Trust could be whatever you desire in the best interest of your child. The ages could go well into adulthood.

Contact us at for expert legal advice.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Nine

Do not make the mistake of not providing adequate powers to your Executor. In order to properly administer the estate, your Executor should be able to handle the affairs of your estate without court approval. It is not efficient to have the court approve every or even most aspects of the administration of your estate. There would be significant delay.

You want expert advise when it comes to preparing your Will and other estate planning documents. Contact us at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Eight

How do you want the death taxes to be paid on your estate? If you are not clear in your Will, there could be unintended tax consequences.

For example, if your Will is silent on how death taxes are paid, your beneficiaries could have to sell assets to pay the taxes due at your death. If the Will provides that all death taxes are paid out of your estate, this could affect some heirs differently by reducing their inheritance.

Don't let estate planning mistakes leave your loved ones exposed. Contact us at

Monday, December 27, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Seven

If you want to make a gift to someone only if they should survive you, it must be clearly stated in the Will. One mistake that could happen is that a gift intended for a particular person could go to a totally unintended person.

For example, the Will states, I leave my shining little red corvette to my brother, John Doe. In some states, like Pennsylvania, if your brother does not survive you, then the gift could go to your brother's children. Your brother has 3 year old twin girls who clearly would not benefit from such a gift. This would not have been your intent. Therefore, you must make sure that you provide that a gift will "lapse" (not be given) if the person does not survive you.

Let experts help you with your Will and other estate planning matters. Contact us at

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Making a Difference - One Run at a Time

Tis the Season of giving. To whom much is given much is expected. If we have received much in our lifetime whether tangible or intangible, we have a responsibility to share, to give, to help. It enhances our life and those around us.

If I have learned anything in the estate planning law practice, that would be that the legacy we create today can have a meaningful and worthwhile impact upon future generations. Our firm is honored to be among the many who give back each and every day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Six

As with the description of personal property to be given, you want to clearly describe the person to whom a gift is given. You want to name the person and if there is possible confusion make sure your Will indicates their relationship to you.

For example, I leave my gold watch to my best friend, Jane Doe. You do not want to just say to your best friend or to your favorite cousin. Let it be clear even if you have to also express where the person lives, at least at the time of making the Will.

Contact us for expert assistance in matters of Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Five

I can not tell you how many Wills did not adequately identify the property to be given. This provides for further disputes among family members. You want to be specific in your bequest. For example, provide the account number; give the property address or legal description on the Deed; provide the license number or registration. You want to catalogue art work and reference the appropriate catalogue number for distribution.

You can assist your Executor if you leave a memorandum with your Will that is precise regarding the gift. And finally, as a savings provision, let your Executor make final decisions in any dispute.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Four

The 4th mistake that could occur with estate planning pertains to the distribution of "personal effects". Sometimes the biggest conflict among family members pertains to those items with little economic value but significant sentimental value. It is not the money or real estate because those distributions are generally made clear.

It is the family armoire, jewelry, china or art. Make sure you have a clear way of making the distribution. You might want to consider a lottery system or a memorandum listing who gets what. The memorandum could be placed with the Will and updated from time to time.

A little planning goes a long way to avoid conflict and bad feelings. Contact us for estate planning, probate and elder law needs at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Three

Mistake number 3 is getting the names wrong in the Will. This is a mistake that can be avoided with careful and professional handling. You also review your Will. Even if you do not know the legal terms and conditions which must be in Will, you can address misspellings, wrong names and other name related errors.

I have seen Wills with names misspelled and sometime the wrong name. You do not want to use nicknames but your "legal" name and those of your beneficiaries should always appear in the Will. It is appropriate to have "also known as" provided in the document for additional clarification.

Don't let this mistake cause your heirs anguish. Review before you sign. Contact us at for expert advice and guidance.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Two

The failure to provide complete information to your estate planner is a big mistake. Your estate planner needs to identify all of your assets; to estimate the relative value of those assets; and, to determine how assets are titled. It is important to provide the names and ages of all your immediate family members. If you have other heirs that you want to leave assets, their names need to be provided to your estate planner.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number One

Over the next few days, I will review estate planning mistakes. But more importantly, I will address how to avoid them or correct them if you have failed to avoid a mistake.

(1) Not getting an estate planning professional to handle your estate planning is a common error made by many.

You can avoid this by doing your research. Check with your local association of legal professionals for a recommenation or get a referral from a friend who has used an estate planning attorney. If you have already made the mistake, then have your documents reviewed by an estate planning professional to make sure you have what works best for you and your family.

We stay current all estate planning matters to serve you. Contact our offices for a free consultation at

Monday, December 13, 2010

In A Blink Of An Eye - Follow-Up

A message from Jayla’s mom Robyn:
“Thank you Yvette and all of the sponsors for your support. Hearts for Jayla is making a difference. One Child, One Vision can make a World of Difference. Keep Praying.”

You are not alone. Giving has a domino affect in many ways. Jayla has shared what happened with her eye injury and other children do not feel alone in their personal eye injury battle. It is good to know we ran and raised money to help address, prevent and cure eye injuries. This is just a follow up video for your information and thanks again for your support. Stay in touch with us at

Breaking News - The Federal Estate Tax

Last week, a number of tax issues were addressed. For the next 2 years, 2011 and 2012 Congress has provided:

• The new estate tax rate will be levied on estates over $5 million ($10 million for couples), with a tax rate of 35% for 2011 and 2012

• The top two tax brackets will remain at 33% and 35%.

• No change for capital gains and dividends taxes. It will remain at 15% for everyone

Now that we know what to expect for the next 2 years, it’s a good idea to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your estate plan as well as you year-end tax strategies before December 31st.

Contact us at for up to date estate planning information.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Moments That Can Touch the Soul

We all can appreciate when a simple moment becomes an extraordinary experience. This can happen anytime, anywhere.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Dies at 61

Her legacy of strength and forgiveness will live on long after her death. She fought the fight we all hope we never have to endure. Though she lost her battle to breast cancer, it will be her life's work that will be remembered by everyone.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who Will Be the Guardian?

Getting your affairs in order is such an important action for all of us. However, most of us procrastinate or do not make planning for this eventuality a priority. So, I thought I would do a series on things that might motivate us to action.

The FIRST series will be on children. Yes, they are for many of us our MOST important asset and we want to make sure they are taken care of when we die. They can move us to ACT.

I thought this photo was absolutely incredible and wonderous. What a lovely family. QUESTION, who would be named as the guardian for septuplets if something happened to their parents? Naming a guardian is one of the most important parts of doing an estate plan.

Do not procrastinate. Your children are depending upon you. Contact us at

We can help.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What is Your Plan?

I ask the question because it is important to have a plan so that you are not merely reacting to situations. You are in control and make things happen. With a plan you move from reaction to action.

So, what is your plan? You develop plans for work. You develop plans for your children. But, what about a plan for you!! You start with your goals and aspirations in aspects of your life. This would encompass your personal, work, health and spiritual/religious. I would suggest you have at least 2 goals and aspirations in each category. After you list your 2 or more goals and aspirations then be as specific as possible regarding how you might accomplish those goals and aspirations. Remember, faith in your goals and aspirations will help work out some details your may not know how to address.

AND of course, getting your Will done should be NUMBER ONE in your personal goals. Once you write it down in your plan, guess what, it gets done and not as a reaction but as an ACTION!!

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