Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

Pennsylvania News Today’s recent article entitled “Top 7 Reasons You Need An Estate Lawyer says that when you think about hiring a real estate lawyer, it might seem a little unsettling. However, let’s look at these reasons and why you might require them.

Estate Planning. You might want to consider this, but everyone passes away. It’s important that your family is ready for this. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you through this process and make certain everything is prepared. You should have a will and most likely a trust. These documents says what should happen with your assets when you pass away.

Trusts. A trust helps manage assets both before and after someone dies. If you only have one or two assets you want given to someone, a will is adequate. However, if you own extensive property, ask an experienced estate planning attorney about setting up a trust. This will help your family keep living in your home, even after you’re gone without worrying about it being sold out from under them.

Probate. The probate court oversees the distribution of a person’s estate according to the instructions in their will. Probate can be a lengthy and expensive process, depending on where you live and the complexity of your assets or family situation. An estate planning attorney can help you with strategies to avoid it. A probate attorney can help you, so your family doesn’t have to worry about dealing with that stress or spending a vast amount of money necessary to do this correctly.

Guardianship. Guardianships are used when parents pass away and leave minor children behind. You can designate a guardian for your minor children in your will.

Elder Law Services. Seniors frequently need help managing finances and health care decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney or elder law attorney can help your loved ones through these complicated matters.

Estate Investments. An experienced attorney can also advise you on how to make smart investments for your family and can make certain that the transaction goes smoothly, and that any moves work with your estate planning objectives.

Tax Issues. Taxes may be owed on estates worth more than four million dollars. This can make it hard for heirs who don’t have access to this much money upfront. An estate planning attorney can help you avoid taxes, so your family doesn’t have to deal with this problem.

Estate planning is a process that should be started as soon as possible. You’ll need an estate planning lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced to help. My office is fully open for you to make an appointment to discuss these matters.

Reference: Pennsylvania News Today (Nov. 11, 2021) “Top 7 Reasons You Need An Estate Lawyer”


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Does Isolation Impact Senior Well-Being?

Socially isolated seniors have a 59% greater risk of mental and physical decline than those who don’t experience social isolation. Socialization has also been shown to slow Alzheimer’s and dementia patient’s decline.

The Laconia Daily Sun’s recent article entitled “Loneliness and isolation can affect senior health” says that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 million, or 28% of people who are aged 65 and older now live alone and almost half of women over 75 live alone.

You can take intentional steps to decrease isolation and reduce lack of contact to improve your overall wellbeing. Let’s look at how can seniors foster connection and reduce loneliness:

  • Engage in Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites can help seniors stay connected to friends and family across the country and around the world! Many social media platforms also have chat functions, games and other features that foster connection.
  • Togetherness Activities. These types of activities reduce lack of contact. They can be in-person, when possible, or through video chat and phone calls. They can include conversations, cooking and eating together, reading together, playing games, scrapbooking, or listening to music. Moreover, research shows that planning and anticipating an event has mental health benefits.
  • Online Interaction. This can be a virtual meet-up, online worship, Facebook trivia night, or virtual communities focused on hobbies. This helps seniors connect to others in their community without leaving home.
  • Virtual Volunteers. For those looking for a sense of purpose, there are opportunities to volunteer to help others from home, which can include sewing quilts for shelters, writing cards for military service members oversees and other activities that let people to do good works in their free time.

Isolation and loneliness can be signals that a senior lacks the support and tools required to live a healthy, independent life. However, with planning and deliberate action, fostering positive relationships and connections can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. For seniors that need companionship or help in combating loneliness, caregivers can also help with encouragement, support and assistance with daily living. They can also encourage overall health through meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation and activities.

Reference: Laconia Daily Sun (Nov. 5, 2021) “Loneliness and isolation can affect senior health”


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Can I Avoid Password Problems for My Family in Estate Planning?

Barron’s recent article entitled “How to Ensure Heirs Avoid a Password-Protected Nightmare” explains that even financial planners may not consider until too late, how difficult it can be to recover and access a loved one’s accounts after they pass away. Since we are much more paperless with our finances, getting access to these accounts can be extremely hard for heirs, if they don’t have the right information. That’s because digital accounts are protected by encryption, multifactor authentication and federal data privacy laws.

Create a list of digital accounts and instructions on how to access them. The list should include not only financial assets but social media and other accounts. Digital accounts that loved ones or advisors may need to access following a death include:

  • Traditional financial accounts
  • Cryptocurrency accounts
  • Home payment and utilities accounts
  • Health insurance benefits
  • Email accounts
  • Social media
  • Smartphone accounts
  • Storage and file-sharing
  • Photo, music and video accounts
  • E-commerce accounts
  • Subscriptions to streaming services, such as Netflix, newspapers, music services; and
  • Loyalty/rewards programs for airlines and hotels.

Create a list of accounts, passwords and access information, keeping it up to date as information changes and letting a trusted person, such as an executor, trustee or estate planning attorney, know its location. Without a password list, it can be a nightmare.

Note that with every digital account, there’s a specific process that heirs must undertake to gain access, which should then be communicated clearly in your estate plan. Make a list of all digital assets and their access information, but don’t include this in the will itself, since the document is part of the public record in probate.

Being prepared well ahead of time can help your family avoid additional stress and delays as they probate your estate. It also ensures that they don’t forfeit significant financial assets concealed behind an impenetrable digital wall.

Reference: Barron’s (Dec. 15, 2021) “How to Ensure Heirs Avoid a Password-Protected Nightmare”


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