News & Resources: Blog: Will

Category Archives: Will

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF WILLS?

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

The Last Will and Testament is commonly known as a Will.

  • The Will defines the contents of your estate.
  • The Will names your executor, the person who will dissolve your estate after you die.
  • The Will names your beneficiaries, who will receive portions of your estate based upon your documented wishes.
  • The Will may also define who will take charge of minor children in the event of your death.

LIVING WILL

The Living Will is also known as an advance care directive. It defines the kind of medical care or treatment you will receive if you become unable to communicate or to make decisions for yourself.

  • Your directive can include the kind of care you wish to receive if you have dementia, are terminally ill, have a catastrophic accident or are in late stages of life.
  • You will name a person in your Living Will who will have power of attorney; this person will have the legal authority to make medical decisions for you when you no longer can.
  • Medical care involves many different options; your advance care directive can include or exclude treatment options, such as CPR, intubation, tube feeding, even hospitalization.
  • Carefully consider all of your options with your attorney.
  • Once your Living Will is in place, it’s important to discuss it and to provide copies of it to:
    o Family members
    o Physicians, healthcare agents
  • Keep a copy of your Living Will with you while you are traveling
  • Keep a card in your wallet that states you have an advance care directive in place.

POUR-OVER WILL

A Pour-Over Will is used in conjunction with a Living Trust. It is a bit of legal “insurance” which will capture any assets not titled in your trust’s name.

  • The Pour-Over will ensures that any of your assets not held in the trust’s name will “pour over” into your trust upon your death.
  • Hopefully you can stay current with titling all of your assets with the trust’s name. If you don’t, the pour-over will takes care of any omissions.
  • Assets in the Pour-Over category are still subject to probate, so it’s definitely advisable to always take title of your assets in your trust’s name.

To schedule your free consultation,
email us, or call 1-215-364-1111
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ESTABLISHING YOUR WILL: STEP-BY-STEP

Your to-do list to establish your Will may sound like a lot of work. Steps don’t need to be rushed, be sure to cover all of the bases.

ASSETS. MAKE A LIST.

Think of this as an inventory of all of your “worldly goods;” these are things you want to pass on to others. For example:

  • Real estate–include the address and the way the property is listed on your deed.
  • Cash, savings, checking, brokerage accounts–include the account name, account number and financial institution that holds the account.
  • Personal property–vehicles, family heirlooms, jewelry, collectibles.
  • Insurance policies, businesses.

BENEFICIARIES. MAKE A LIST.

Your beneficiaries will one day inherit the assets in your will. Beneficiaries can be family members, friends, charities–the designations are up to you.

  • Decide who will receive what. Every asset you own needs a beneficiary designation.
  • If you own your business, you will designate who will take over upon your death.
  • There are many ways to split up property among your heirs. Discuss all of the options with your attorney to choose what’s right for you.

EXECUTOR. CHOOSE ONE.

Your executor will take charge of your estate after you die.

  • During the probate phase your executor will be your estate’s point of contact with the probate court. Discuss your options with your attorney, then identify your top choices.
  • Once you’ve decided, discuss your choice with your executor—review the responsibilities with them.
  • Your executor will take charge of liquidating any assets per your will’s instructions–so that they can be converted into cash for distribution to heirs.

ENGAGE YOUR ATTORNEY TO PREPARE THE WILL

  • Your attorney will draw up the will, you’ll be presented with a draft to review and sign.

SIGN YOUR WILL

  • You and independent witnesses will sign the will. Valid witnesses are those who are not named in the will and have no interest in your estate.
  • Notarize the document.

UPDATE YOUR BENEFICIARIES

Beneficiaries can be assigned to certain assets—this can happen outside of the will’s process.

  • Insurance policies, IRAs, 401Ks, for example, can have beneficiaries assigned.
  • Be sure to update your beneficiaries on all possible financial instruments to make your wishes known.
  • Many of these assets won’t have to go through probate, since you’ve already assigned beneficiaries to them. Without beneficiaries on file, these assets will be held up in probate.

ORGANIZE YOUR DOCUMENTS

  • Keep a few copies of your will on hand.
  • Provide a copy of your will to others, as needed.
  • Keep your Living Will handy. When traveling out of town, for example, take a copy with you in the event of an emergency.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR EXECUTOR

  • It’s a good idea to give a copy of your will to your executor
  • Provide a list of your assets to your executor as well
    • Description and location of your assets
      • Bank accounts, including account numbers
      • Brokerage, IRAs, 401Ks, including account numbers
      • Safe deposit box, key location
      • Personal property descriptions, location
      • Real estate address(es)
      • Vehicles, VIN numbers
      • Include your social security number on your inventory

UPDATE YOUR WILL AND ASSETS LIST AS NEEDED

Periodically review your will–do it as a new year’s present to yourself–to make sure everything is still current

  • Beneficiaries may change, based upon your wishes or other circumstances, so update your will accordingly.
  • Update your assets list as needed, but be sure to send a copy to your executor once each year.

Contact Scott D. Bloom law for more information on how a Will can be a part of your estate planning.

To schedule your free consultation,
email us, or call 1-215-364-1111
or 1-855-992-6337 (Toll Free)

WHAT IS A WILL?

• A will is an estate planning tool–a legal document–which is used to manage the disposition of assets after the person who created the will (the testator) passes away. In addition, a will can be used to name guardians for minor children.

• A living will documents your wishes for medical care in case you cannot make decisions for yourself.

• A will appoints an executor, who will take charge of your estate after your death. You can name co-executors.

A WILL HELPS YOU WITH ESTATE PLANNING

A will directs the disposition of your estate after you die. Your will designates beneficiaries who will receive your estate’s assets as directed by your will.

  • A probate court, in conjunction with your executor, will ensure your wishes are carried out.
  • Probate court proceedings are public. Anyone can have access to information about your estate and the details of your will.
  • A will is fairly simple to prepare. Attorney fees for preparing a will is usually less than preparing a trust.

A LIVING WILL DIRECTS MEDICAL CARE ON YOUR BEHALF

  • A Living Will, also called an advance healthcare directive, documents your healthcare wishes in the event you cannot communicate your wishes.
  • A Living Will is highly recommended since it leaves no question as to your instructions about your medical care if you become incapacitated.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A WILL?

It’s desirable to have a will in place. If you don’t, you will be deemed to have died intestate and state law will determine how your estate is bequeathed. Even your closest, most trusted family members will have no say in your estate’s dissolution.

  • The state in which you reside will appoint an Administrator for your estate.
  • A probate court to oversee what happens to your assets.
  • The Administrator will disburse your assets according to your state’s intestate law.
  • It is possible that family members whom you’d normally leave out of your estate could inherit assets from you—if that’s what your state’s law says should happen.
  • Any person can appeal to the probate court to make a claim on your estate. It will be up to the court to determine the validity of such a claim.  For example:

Beth and Richard were married for 35 years. They were both 55 years old, anticipating their retirement years when they reached 65–the golden years were in sight. Their youngest would be done with culinary school soon–the other two were all done with their education. Beth and Richard still had plenty of time to replenish savings, somewhat depleted because they helped their kids with school expenses.

Unfortunately, Richard suffered a massive heart attack just after turning 55. Richard had been in good health, or so they both thought, and nothing warned them of his condition. It shook the family to the core, no one saw it coming.

The sad reality of Richard’s absence was so difficult on Beth. With the help of her kids and friends she is beginning to figure out how to move on in life without him. It isn’t just Richard’s loss that she has to face–she has to face life without him financially.

They both had talked about creating a Will or maybe a trust together and had been putting it off. Richard died without either one in place. Because of this, the financial path forward for Beth will be very challenging.

She and Richard had talked their wishes to each other–many times–and never made anything official, nothing was in writing, not to mention in writing filed with an attorney. What both Beth and Richard had talked about in the past was leaving each other all of their assets–then leaving the remaining estate to the kids when the surviving spouse finally passed away.

Beth made a bit more money than Richard, but they had always needed both of their incomes to make ends meet. A second mortgage on their home tapped the equity–it was used to help with the kids’ college expenses. They had figured on saving at least $50,000 per year for 10 more working years – then they would retire with their nest egg replenished.

The couple had worked at various companies throughout their careers–they had a “collection” of 401Ks, IRAs that had accumulated from working at these various places. Richard’s IRAs and brokerage accounts’ total value are $180,000. Richard’s three IRAs were in his name only. He also had a brokerage account in his name only. Richard never went on the website for all of these accounts to input Beth as his beneficiary; Beth’s name wasn’t on file.

Richard had a life insurance policy through his employer that would pay Beth $50,000. At least Richard had filled out the beneficiary form when he went through new hire orientation.

What Beth has recently learned, is that she can’t touch any of Richard’s IRAs or the brokerage account. Without beneficiaries named on these accounts, these items will be part of the probate of Richard’s assets—the accounts are virtually under Pennsylvania’s control.
Beth is learning the hard way that, in Pennsylvania, Richard died intestate. The term means that Richard died without a Will. Pennsylvania law dictates that Beth and the kids would split assets in Richard’s name. Beth is dumbfounded.

Pennsylvania dictates this about Richard’s accounts: Beth will inherit the first $30,000, plus half of the remaining $150,000. So, Beth will inherit $30,000 plus $75,000 and the insurance policy. The three kids will split the remaining $75,000.

The youngest child wants to take her share of Richard’s money. The other two want to give their shares to their Mom. The youngest’s decision is adding stress to everyone–on top of their grieving, it’s causing a bit of a family rift.

Other estate fees will add up: probate administration fees to an attorney they’ve hired to manage that for them—no one has the strength to take that on at this point. The fees might be somewhere north of $5,000.

There are a lot of “if onlys” uttered about Richard these days: If only Richard and Beth had their Will (or better yet, trust) in place; if only Richard’s financial accounts had listed Beth as the beneficiary; if only the financial accounts were in both of their names (or in a trust’s name). If only…then Beth would have received all of Richard’s estate. With a trust in place and all of the right titling in place, Beth would automatically have been in control of all of the IRAs and brokerage account.

Beth can use every penny she can get. The kids have their whole lives ahead of them, $25,000 in a 20-year-old’s hands will get spent quickly; Beth can live a whole year on that $25,000–it seems unfair the State of Pennsylvania puts her kids on a level playing field–and there is nothing she can do about it.

Beth is angry at herself and Richard for never making a will or trust a priority. She’s hopeful her kids will figure things out and will get along again. She really hopes her youngest will rethink taking the $25,000.

Beth and Richard did everything for their kids; at age 55 she feels she’s earned the right to control her destiny and to have that security she always knew they’d both have as she and Richard grew old together.

Right now, things are a bit out of control. Beth can only hope something will go her way very soon.

HOW DO I KNOW IF A WILL IS RIGHT FOR MY SITUATION?

  • A team of professionals is the best way to determine if a Will is right for you. Start with an estate planning attorney. They will discuss all of the options with you so you can make the best decision for your needs.

To identify the best type of will for your needs, talk to the professionals at the Scott D. Bloom Law office.

To schedule your free consultation,
email us, or call 1-215-364-1111
or 1-855-992-6337 (Toll Free)

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