Estate Planning Essentials: How to Ensure a Smooth Transition of Assets

When you pass away, your heirs will have a lot to deal with. In addition to processing the grief they are feeling, they will also have to go through the process of administering your estate and properly transferring any assets you have left behind. The process is complex but can be made smoother by thinking ahead. Below are some essential steps you can take to ensure the process of administering your estate/inheriting your assets goes as smoothly as possible.

Proactive Estate Planning

Planning for the future can alleviate many bumps in the road that can occur when it’s time to take action, and that includes estate planning. There are many steps you can take right now that will make things easier for your heirs when you pass away. The first step is to have a conversation with your intended beneficiaries. Talk to them about your wishes, what you want to happen with assets like real estate, vehicles, and investment accounts. Discuss any special needs they may have and how your estate may be able to address those needs after you’re gone. When your heirs are clear about your wishes, there will be less uncertainty about who will be getting what from your estate and how to handle those assets.

Writing a Will

Once you have discussed your wishes with your heirs, it’s time to talk to an estate planning attorney about writing a will. This legal document will clearly state who will receive which assets, eliminating the potential for squabbles between family members. The probate process is also much more straightforward with a will and will prevent your PA’s intestacy laws from determining who gets your assets.

Non-Probate Assets

Not only should you consider the probate estate when planning but also assets that pass outside of probate, such as joint accounts and accounts with potential beneficiary designations. While certain accounts allow the naming of a direct beneficiary, this is not always the best option. Whereas a will or trust can have protective provisions, assets with direct beneficiaries do not. Your estate planning should include consideration of both types of accounts and how they work together as part of the overall estate plan.

Planning for Taxes

Inheriting assets can expose your heirs to potential tax liability. Rather than bequeathing your assets in a lump sum, you can plan your estate in a way that minimizes tax liability for your heirs. The different income and estate taxes should be discussed with your advisors when considering your planning as different planning methods and actions can affect the amount of different taxes.  You do not want to decrease one tax only to materially increase another. Sometimes trusts can help. Trusts can serve as a tax reduction tool or an asset preservation tool as well. Once again, speaking to an estate planning attorney will give you all the information and assistance you need to develop the right strategy. 

Estate Planning Attorney in Chester County, PA

You want your assets to transition smoothly after your passing, and getting help from an estate planning attorney in Philadelphia and surrounding counties is the best way. Robert Slutsky is one of the most trusted elder law attorneys in Pennsylvania. Rob can put his thirty years of experience to work by setting up trusts, writing a will, and advising you about anything else related to proactive estate planning. Give Slutsky Elder Law a call at (610) 940-0650 or contact us to request a consultation. 

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