Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney, Living Wills Regardless of your age, your health, your status in life, or the size of your estate, we can help craft a personal estate plan to meet your specific needs and those of your family. Drafting an estate plan—one that includes health care considerations—serves to protect you and your loved ones, gives your agent and medical providers direction on making health care decisions if you cannot speak for yourself, and prevents probate court disputes after your death. Our estate planning lawyers have helped Pennsylvania residents create health care, trust, and estate plans that carry out and optimize their wishes.
Tax and Estate Planning For various reasons, we may suggest that your estate plan include the creation of a trust, which can be an effective tool to minimize income or estate taxes, protect assets, or manage your future financial needs. We can discuss asset protection strategies with you, including revocable or irrevocable "living" trusts, asset protection trusts, life insurance trusts, or special needs trusts. A special needs trust is often created through a will, or as a separate instrument, in order for you to provide long-term financial assistance for a child or an adult with a disability. This trust may also enable the person to continue to qualify for government programs while a trustee oversees the funds in the trust.
Your Options When Drafting a Will If you do not have a will, the state, through its intestate succession laws, will direct how your estate is handled, and to whom your assets are distributed. You can direct your own plan through a will, which we can help you create and execute in accordance with law. When a parent's untimely death leaves behind minor children, a legal guardian must be named. Through a will, you can name a friend or relative to be the guardian of your children, rather than having a court name that person without your input. There are many alternatives to consider when drafting a will. Our firm can assist you in writing a will and drafting other estate planning documents that typically form the basis of a comprehensive estate plan.
Health Care Planning We are also experienced in helping clients with their health care planning needs, and the tools to carry such plans into effect. We routinely assist people with writing their living wills, appointing a health care agent under a health care durable power of attorney, formulating a declaration to their physicians, or creating a special needs trust for a person under a disability.
Estates, Guardianships, and Conservatorships When a person dies, the Court-supervised process whereby a person's final obligations are paid, taxes are taken care of, and the balance of the estate is distributed in accordance with the Will (or if there is no will, the provisions of state law) is called Probate. There is also the consideration, in Pennsylvania, of inheritance tax, the filing of the inheritance tax return, and payment of the tax. If the estate is large enough, there is the concern of federal estate tax. The attorneys at WERNER LAW GROUP are experienced in this process, and are available to advise you regarding the best, most economical, way to proceed when a loved one passes away.
There are other court-supervised proceedings which are used to see to it that living persons are cared for. A "guardian" is appointed to take care of a person who is under some type of legal disability. Other proceedings may see the appointment of a "conservator" who becomes responsible for the financial affairs of a person who needs that kind of help. Our attorneys are experienced in all these other proceedings, usually administered by the local probate or orphan's court.
Whether you are writing a will, planning for your children, exploring estate planning alternatives, or there has been a death in your family, our estate planning attorneys are available to help create plans that comply with state laws, provide for your loved ones, or otherwise help to guide you through any Court proceeding.