Pennsylvania property owners who do not have an estate plan should consider the benefits of creating a will or trust. Without there being a will or trust in place, the assets and property of individuals who pass away will be distributed according to law as dictated by the decedent’s bloodline. If there are certain responsibilities or assets that someone wants to give to a particular person, such as appointing a guardian for a child, it is important to document those preferences in a will.

Individuals who are preparing an estate plan will need to make a list of all of their property, assets and other items they plan to pass onto their beneficiaries, such as a family heirloom. They may then speak with an experienced lawyer to determine whether it makes more sense to have a will, a trust or both. If someone intends to add more assets to the trust at a later date, it may be best to create a revocable will, which can be amended later on. If someone is more concerned with immediate tax benefits, it is possible that an irrevocable trust could have more to offer.

In addition to setting forth the beneficiaries of a will or trust, an estate plan can also dictate how certain assets will be distributed. For instance, a parent could make a child’s receipt of a certain amount of money contingent upon the child attending college. Estate planning should also include considering a a power of attorney in case they later become mentally or physically incapacitated, and a living will or advance healthcare directive to help guide end-of-life decisionmaking.

Estate planning can be easier and less expensive than many people think, and it might even save people or their beneficiaries money in the long run.  Competent estate planning provides peace of mind.  Individuals with assets in Pennsylvania should consult with a local estate planning attorney who can guide them through the whole process.