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What Type of Lawyer Specializes in Wills and Trusts?

Jan. 15, 2021

A Pennsylvania estate planning attorney specializes in wills and trusts. Unlike general attorneys, estate planning attorneys have strategies to protect wealth and reduce taxes when creating trusts, wills, and other documents. If you have yet to get a will or trust, consider going to an estate planning attorney for help. First, though, here are some benefits of hiring an estate planning attorney.

Why hire an estate planning attorney for wills and trusts

Some people try to make wills and trusts at home without help from an estate planning attorney. Unfortunately, do-it-yourself wills and trusts can be costly in the long run. Estate planning attorneys offer guidance and strategies to save families time and money. This includes minimizing inheritance taxes, avoiding probate, and planning for final expenses.

Minimize inheritance taxes

Pennsylvania has a flat inheritance tax rate of 4.5% imposed on most property that goes to lineal heirs and direct descendants. An estate planning attorney has strategies to minimize the inheritance tax. Plans might include setting up joint accounts, gifting assets, purchasing real estate outside of the state, or setting up a special trust that creates an annuity. The attorney will go over all possible options when setting up wills and trusts in Pennsylvania.

Avoid probate

Estate attorneys can also help clients avoid probate. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive. Many people do not want to place the burden on their families when they pass away. People can avoid probate by setting up living trusts for bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, and more. Additional strategies include setting up joint accounts and adding payable-on-death designations to certificates of deposit and bank accounts. Payable-on-death designations allow account holders to retain ownership of the accounts until passing, and then the beneficiaries receive the funds without going through probate.

Final expense planning

Funeral planning is also a critical component of estate planning in Pennsylvania. An estate planning attorney provides guidance to ensure the surviving family members are not left with a financial burden when the decedent passes away. After reviewing the financial documents, the estate planning attorney might recommend prepayment in installments or a lump sum or setting up an executor directive. This allows the person to set aside money to pay for final expenses, and then the executor makes the payment when the decedent passes away. The attorney will go over the benefits of each option before drafting the will.

Seek legal guidance for wills and trusts

Wills and trusts are complicated, and a single mistake can cost you or your family money. An estate planning attorney can help you minimize inheritance taxes, avoid probate, and handle your final expenses. With the right planning, you will not have to worry about what will happen to your family when you pass away. Instead, you will know that you have provided for them with your will and trust.

Contact us here for more information from Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law, or to schedule a consultation in our office in Pittsburgh.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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