No Pennsylvania financial plan is complete if it does not include an estate plan. Estate planning is something many adults tend to avoid because it brings on thoughts of death and leaving loved ones behind. There are a number of misconceptions surrounding estate planning that people lean on to avoid the subject.
For example, many will say they don't need a will because they don't have much in terms of cash or assets. Even those who do not have much to bequeath could use a will to distribute what they do have according to their wishes. Additionally, a will can cover more than who gets what when a person dies. The will might include provisions about who becomes the children's guardian, for example. It can also give instructions regarding burial or cremation.
Some believe once the estate plan is established, it's done. However, this overlooks the very necessary process of periodically making updates. Updates are obvious when a person marries or divorces, or when a new child is born, but it is important to revisit a plan for other reasons as well. For example, changes in the law may necessitate changes in the plan.
Once a person has a will, there may still be other estate planning matters that require attention. Several different types of assets are designed to pass outside the will. Retirement assets, life insurance policies and other holdings can be transferred via beneficiary designations.
Individuals in Pennsylvania might want to talk about estate planning with an attorney. Legal counsel could help by examining the facts of the client's situation and suggest planning instruments to fit their needs and goals. The estate planning attorney might create one or more trusts to effect the transfer of assets outside of probate.