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Pittsburgh Family Law And Estate Planning Legal Blog

Estate planning changes require new focus

When it comes to estate planning in Pennsylvania, there are a number of things people should keep in mind besides having a will and one or more trusts in place. The creation of new asset categories and the passage of new regulations in recent years have changed the estate planning landscape. It has become necessary for estate planners and people doing their own estate planning to broaden the scope of their knowledge and consider issues that were not so important before.

Among the things to keep an eye on are funding for a living trust, the estate tax and account passwords. Once a living trust is established, it still must be funded with assets in order for those assets to avoid probate. With a revocable living trust, the settlor is able to make changes to beneficiaries and trust terms. In order to fund the trust, the title for the assets must be put into the name of the trust.

Planning to move forward after divorce

When couples in Pennsylvania decide to divorce, they may have a difficult time in the immediate period following the separation. It can be challenging to adjust to a newly single life, especially after a longer-term relationship. Since almost half of first marriages end in divorce, it's wise to think about how one could recover from the end of a relationship and deal with the potential for depression and other mental health concerns.

Turning to friends and family can help an ex get through the difficult time after a divorce. They can offer warm support and a listening, understanding ear. Some may also want to consider professional support, such as that provided by a therapist. A therapist's office can provide a safe space to talk through more complex or intimate issues.

How to handle a familial adoption in Pennsylvania

When people think of adoption, they often imagine someone taking in a child whom they never met and with whom they have no relationship, which certainly does happen.

However, many adoptions that take place in the United States involve people with a pre-existing familial relationship.

Critical aspects of a power of attorney in estate plans

When crafting estate plans in Pennsylvania, there is much to consider. Frequently, people will concentrate on the basics like wills and trusts. However, some individuals can benefit from a power of attorney. Understanding the responsibilities that the agent will have when granted power of attorney is imperative.

There are certain factors to consider when selecting the agent. Once the power of attorney is granted, that individual can make financial decisions. That includes control of bank accounts, assets and more. There also is the choice of a springing power of attorney or durable power of attorney. The former is activated when the person is incapacitated. The latter is in effect once it is signed and continues if the person is incapacitated. A springing power of attorney will require proof the person is incapacitated.

Common myths to ignore when ending a marriage

Couples in Pennsylvania may believe that ending their marriages will make their lives better. While this may be true for some, there are several myths about divorce and separation that couples should disregard. One of the big misconceptions is that child custody or alimony is awarded solely based on a person's gender. Child custody rulings are made based on what is in the minor's best interests.

It is possible for a father who acts as a son or daughter's primary caregiver to be awarded legal and physical custody of that child. If a wife earned more money than her husband during a marriage, she may be the one making alimony payments. This may be more likely if a man was the one who stayed home to watch the kids while his wife went to work.

Easy steps for creating an estate plan

Estate planning can be a difficult concept for many people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. However, it may be easier to create a plan by breaking the process into different steps. The first step is to consider who the beneficiaries of the plan will be. For the most part, retirement plans allow the owner to designate a beneficiary. The same is generally true for bank, brokerage and other financial accounts.

As beneficiary designations trump any language within a will, it may be a good idea to review them at least once a year. Adding a medical directive to an estate plan can make it easier for family members or others to determine what type of care the estate owner should receive. A medical proxy is a person who is allowed to make decisions about what sort of treatment the estate owner should get.

How prenups can protect business interests

In previous decades, the stigma of asking for a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married meant that many Pennsylvania couples opted to forgo an agreement. However, prenuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace, especially as couples obtain real estate and financial assets prior to marriage. While most couples do not ever intend to get divorced, prenuptial agreements can help protect those who have businesses.

One of the ways in which a prenuptial agreement protects a person's business is that the prenup establishes the value of the business just prior to the marriage. While any additional value may be divided during a divorce, the initial value is considered separate property and will therefore be protected. Additionally, the prenuptial agreement allows the couple to establish what will happen to any appreciation or depreciation of the business after the date of marriage.

Naming a trust as a beneficiary of an IRA

A common way for Pennsylvania residents to save for retirement is with an individual retirement account (IRA). The potential problem with setting up an IRA is that the account holder could pass away before having the opportunity to take out the money at the appropriate time. One possible solution is designating a trust as the IRA beneficiary.

The process of naming a trust as an IRA beneficiary typically starts by choosing this option when an IRA is set up with a brokerage. As for the reasons to name a trust as an IRA beneficiary, it's an appealing option since it allows for more control over how the money will be paid out.

Can you stop your former spouse from moving with your children?

Your relationships with your children can help them recover from the stress of divorce. In most cases, children of divorce fare best when they can keep up healthy relationships with both parents. Those parents don’t have to live together, but it often helps if they live within a short distance of each other.

Studies have found that children whose divorced parents moved more than an hour apart from each other were more likely to suffer from emotional and physical distress than children whose parents lived closer together. In addition, children often grow more distant from their parents when they lose daily contact. So what can you do if your former spouse plans to move the children away from you?

Using a trust in Pennsylvania

There are many different reasons to include trusts in an estate plan. These legal documents can be utilized to protect funds from the creditors of recipients and from being split up during a divorce. A trust could also manage and regulate investments and spending so that beneficiaries with faulty judgment may not squander the assets. Furthermore, trusts can hold assets that will serve as financial support should a settlor become incapacitated, hold life insurance policies and manage funds that can't be easily divided.

An estate owner can structure a trust so that it can help them achieve their particular goals while also providing the mechanisms for the trustee to address those goals among certain economic and investment factors. During the structuring process, it's important to determine if the trust should be funded immediately, over a certain period of time or upon the death of the settlor.

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