Estate planning can provide you with a variety of benefits such as avoiding probate in Pennsylvania or any other state where you own property. Other potential benefits of thorough planning include minimizing estate taxes or ensuring that a child’s inheritance is protected from creditors. Let’s take a look at how to create an estate plan and the documents you’ll likely use to do so.
Determining your estate planning needs
The first thing that you’ll want to do is to write a list of goals that you want your plan to accomplish. For example, you’ll want to consider who will receive an inheritance or who would manage your assets if you become mentally incapacitated in the future. Ideally, you will create a list of all your assets and liabilities and put them in a safe place where family members can easily find them.
How to decide which estate planning documents are right for you
If you have few assets or are childless, it may be possible to get by with just a will. However, if you own a business, real estate or have other investments, it may be worthwhile to consider creating a trust. A living trust allows you to retain control of assets until the day that you die, and any assets held inside of it will usually avoid probate.
However, irrevocable trusts may be a better choice if you want to engage in charitable giving or reduce the size of your taxable estate. The downside to an irrevocable trust is that you no longer control the assets that are titled in its name. After creating a will, trust or another estate document, be sure to review it regularly to ensure that it still meets your needs.
If you need help creating or updating your estate plan, an attorney may be able to help. Generally speaking, wills, trusts and other estate planning documents may be altered or revoked as long as you are of sound mind and adhere to other applicable laws.