Estate Planning & Administration

We offer complete estate planning representation through analysis of specific client goals and presenting options based on tax strategies. Our documents include marital deduction and credit shelter trusts, generation skipping transfers, Q-Tip and Q-Dot Trusts, charitable bequests and a broad range of planning tools. We also use both revocable and irrevocable trusts in estate plans for small or large estates

We have participated in many areas of estate administration, including simple probate cases and complex family disputes. Our clients feel secure in knowing that our attorneys will work closely with individuals, families, executors and administrators Estate and trust administration matters are handled expediently, with knowledge of the issues, and with the utmost care.

“The essence of estate planning is to provide for the transfer assets during life or on death according to the client desires in a manner that minimizes taxes and costs.”

Some initial questions:

  • What is an estate?
  • What are the forms of ownership?
  • When is an estate determined?
  • What is a transfer under federal / state law?
  • What taxes apply to transfers?
  • When do taxes apply on transfers?
  • What forms of transfer are exempt from tax?
  • What is the PA Inheritance tax rate?
  • What deductions apply against PA Inheritance Tax?
  • How does the Federal Estate Tax differ from the PA Inheritance Tax?
  • How is the $5,490,000 Federal Estate Tax Credit applied?
  • How does the $14,000 annual Federal Gift Tax Exclusion work?

With these questions in mind we are ready to proceed with estate planning.

The Process

Personal Desires
Discuss and analyze long-term financial and personal objectives during lifetime and upon death.

  • Transfer of assets upon death
  • Choice of beneficiaries
  • Special gifts (real estate, business, antiques, collections, etc…)
  • Life insurance and pension beneficiaries
  • Charities

Assets and Liabilities
List assets including investments, real estate, pension accounts, life insurance and tangible personal property. Include how each asset is titled, and with IRA, pension, annuity and life insurance, show the current beneficiary designations. Identify debts / liabilities. Review life insurance, IRA, and annuities to confirm the beneficiary designations are correct. Consider other factors such as inheritance, divorce payments, etc.

Drafting Issues
Desires and needs come first before any documents are drafted. (Husband/ wife transfers and by- pass trust.) How long children / grandchildren should wait for their money? (ages 21, 25, 30, etc.) (Trust can pay for health, maintenance, support, and education). Who will have custody of minor children? Charities and special gifts. Identify Trustees and Executors.

Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax
The Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax is levied on the first dollar of assets after deducting debts, funeral costs and other customary expenses. Tax is 0% (spouses), 4.5% (parent/ child/ lineal descendants) 12% (brother/ sister) 15% (all others). Life insurance is always exempt from Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax. In addition, the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax on pension benefits depends on the age of the decedent, and other relevant factors.

Federal Estate Tax
The Estate Tax applies at the rate of 40% to the extent that assets exceed a unified credit equivalent (in 2017, it is $5,490,000).

“The estate planning process is on-going and documents should be reviewed periodically, particularly when life circumstances change.”

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