Why it’s so important to start estate planning while you are still young.

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Not just the elderly need to be concerned with estate planning. Maybe you are a single mother or father with children and want to make sure they are taken care of properly. College students who own a car and a bank account. How about a couple without children, that own a house, have a joint bank account and land in a different state. While each one of these situations is indeed different they all have one thing in common. Each one will require the help of an estate planning lawyer to make sure their wishes are carried on after they pass on.

With a properly planned and organized estate plan your loved ones won’t have to bear the emotional stress of trying to carry out what they think you would have wanted. By starting your estate planning early you are not only cutting down on the stress and emotional stress of your family but you can be assured that your wishes are carried out.

A few things that may arise if you don’t have a proper estate plan before you pass.

  1. Your surviving family may incur tax burdens as well as expensive probate costs and fees.
  2. Without an estate plan your estate may get hung up in probate after your passing, causing more heartache for your loved ones.
  3. Having a proper estate plan in line will help prevent creditors from getting greedy.
  4. Without an estate plan you are leaving the decision up to your surviving family to choose who receives your assets. This can be a very emotional and stress full decision. With a proper plan you will be able to state who will receive what asset and any circumstances that go along with it. Think family heirlooms and prized processions.
  5. In some cases with the proper estate plan you are able to distribute your assets to who you want to before your passing. This cuts out some of the emotional stress your loved ones will incur.
  6. By having your estate plan in place, you may help to ease the emotional stress on family members from the rigors of planning a funeral and paying extensive fees that are often associated with them.

Should I retain an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia to guide me through settling an Estate?

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If you had to cross a beautiful meadow but there was a big sign saying “Beware, this is a mine field.  An experienced professional guide is available to guide you through the field and you are guaranteed you will not strike a mine if you retain him.”  Would you risk serious injury, maiming or death to save the fee of the experienced guide?  I doubt it but many people do just that and try to administer Estates without the guidance of an experienced Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphia. Do you know how to marshal a Decedent’s assets, how to find out what assets a decedent owned, how to obtain a federal tax ID number, which obligations can be settled at a fraction of the debt, how to prepare the documents required by the Register of Wills and the Orphan’s Court, how to prepare a Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax return, a United States Fiduciary tax return, a Pennsylvania income tax return?

These are things that must be done even in the smallest Estates.  But retaining an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia can, in addition, reducing the Pennsylvania Inheritance Taxes paid by the Estate, you can save future income taxes because of his knowledge of the interrelation of the Inheritance tax and the federal income tax, he can settle debt obligations for a fraction of the claim even through there are enough assets to pay the debt in full, elect to shorten the statute of limitations available to creditors to file claims.  The list goes on and on.  The Administration of an Estate without the guidance of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia is a mine field as the layman will not even be aware of any problems until they strike.  2 recent examples of people who called me because they found my web sight come to mind.  An executor administering an Estate without the guidance of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia made decisions on her Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax returns designed to save Inheritance tax.  She was unaware of the effect that made on the Estate’s income tax until she was presented with a very large bill from the IRS.

Another example was an Administrator who believed she was the Decedent’s next of kin, transferred the Decedent’s home to herself and, when she had it under agreement of sale found out that she was required to get the Orphans’ Court’s permission and ended up loosing the house. These and other horror stories are too common and they could have been avoided by retaining an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia.  Avoiding situations like the ones described here are part of the routine services that are offered by an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia.

I accept fees based upon a fee schedule setting forth the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and/or the Pennsylvania Attorney general. These fees are based upon the size of the gross estate and start at 7% of the first $25,000 of the gross estate.  That means that if your gross estate is $25,000 the fee will be $1,750 leaving $23,500 to pay debts, taxes and inheritance.  The percentage falls as the value of the estate grows.  The fee also reduces as the Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphia saves you Inheritance taxes, income taxes and settles debts at a fraction of the face value.  Please do not walk into a mine field but retain the services of an experienced Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphia to make sure the path is easy and safe.

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How does an Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphiaset fees?

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Our courts have ruled that Estate Lawyers inPhiladelphiacan only charge reasonable fees. Of course that leaves the key question of what is a reasonable fee up in the air.  Our courts take into consideration the complexity of the Estate, the time expended by the Estate Lawyer, his or her experience and education as factors.

All Estates require certain routine services to be preformed.  The question of a fee’s reasonableness is reviewed in every Estate by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in reviewing Inheritance Tax returns and the Pennsylvania Attorney General when a charity is involved.  Both the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and the Attorney General have guidelines as to the reasonableness of an attorney’s fee based upon the size of the gross estate, but they will not publish those guidelines. In 1980 a Judge wrote an opinion in the Johnson Estate case that attached the guidelines of either the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue or the Attorney General to it.

Both the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue deny the Johnson Estate fee schedule is their 1980 guidelines but admit they are pretty close.   Although there are no higher court rulings a number of Orphans’ Court judges have ruled that the Johnson Estate Fee schedule will be accepted as a reasonable fee for an attorney performing routine services in an Estate.  If the fee is larger than the Johnson Estate fee schedule the attorney will have to demonstrate he or she was required to spend more time because non-routine services were required, usually litigation between beneficiaries or taxing authorities.  I will agree to a fee for routine services based upon the Johnson Estate fee schedule even though it is based upon 1980 rates.  This is because an experienced Estate Lawyer inPhiladelphiahas purchased proprietary soft wear that has reduced the amount of hours required to settle an estate.  I pass this savings on to my clients.

Many clients only look at the gross fee and then compare each fee selecting their attorney based upon fee only.  This is a costly mistake.  The gross fee is not what the services of an attorney cost a client. There are many other factors to consider.  All fees are deductible for Pennsylvania Inheritance tax purposes.  That reduces the fee by between 4.5% and 15%. If you retain the services of and experienced Estate lawyer inPhiladelphiahe will know how to pass his fee through to the beneficiaries so they may deduct it from their personal income taxes and therefore reduce the fee further with their tax savings.  Further, an experienced estate lawyer in Philadelphia can settle certain debts at a fraction of the amounts owed even through the Estate has more than enough funds to pay the obligation in full.  I have represented clients in Estates where the savings were so substantial that the attorney’s fee did not cost the estate anything.  The key to selecting an attorney is not the fee but should take into consideration the attorney’s experience and education and the net cost of the fee.

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Top 3 considerations for your Estate Planning Lawyer in Philadelphia

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Are you considering formal estate planning in Philadelphia? There can be many important factors to initially discuss with your estate planning lawyer. Today I will explore some of the questions you may experience when searching for a good quality experienced professional. Remember that in Philadelphia, laws may govern whom your estate will be left to without a will, therefore it is vital to have a professional draw up a clear estate will plan. Below are my top 3 considerations to check during your first consultation session:

1. Clear Declaration – Estate Wills can be complex documents and may be often misinterpreted. It is therefore vital to make a clear declaration when estate planning to ensure that everyone understands who gets what. In Philadelphia the law can determine who receives your estate without a Will therefore it is important to make a clear declaration of your wishes, which your estate planning lawyer can provide for you.

2. Discuss Estate Taxes – You may be surprised to learn that the beneficiaries of your estate may be subject to additional estate taxes after you pass. You should discuss these with your estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia, who will be able to explain the options your family and loved ones can try to reduce the amount of these taxes.

3. Consider College Funds – If you would like part of your estate to go to family ones to pay for their future college funds then you need to explain this to your estate planning lawyer. They can write up a bond type agreement to ensure that these funds are held for college education.

I hope that you would have found this information valuable on your search for an estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia. As you can see estate planning is a complex process involving complicated legal documents and you also need to consider other issues such as income taxes and any charitable donations. While you may be able to estate plan yourself, a mistake can be costly and may result in the most important people in your life missing out on what they deserve.

An experience estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia is the best way to cover all these issues. Nobody likes to consider these questions while you are alive and healthy but estate management is important and should not be put off. By following these tips you should be confident of discovering your new estate planning lawyer and enjoy peace of mind for you and your family.

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Why do you need an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia to probate?

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I have found that a number of clients who found me on the Internet have tried to Probate Estates in Philadelphia and surrounding counties because they have tried to go through probate without the aid of a Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia but were unsuccessful. Probate in Philadelphia is relatively simple but there are problems lurking. If the decedent died with a Will that named an Executor you may have to find witnesses who watched the Decedent sign the Will. If they cannot be found and the Will is not self proving (the witnesses and Decedent signing the Will before a Notary) there are alternatives that an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia will easily solve. If there is no Will the right to be appointed administrator passes to those who would inherit under the Pennsylvania Intestate laws. If that is the case the Register of Wills will require documentation in order to appoint an Administrator. If there is more than one person who would have the right to serve and they cannot agree the services of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia is crucial as the ultimate resolution will be the result of a hearing before an Assistant Register of Wills.

An Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia will make the probate process a simple procedure. Those who try to start an Estate without the services of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia can experience delays that result in the ultimate loss of benefits in the Estate administration process. Marketable securities may go down as, without the appointment of a fiduciary, securities cannot be sold and the prices may drop. Real Estate values may drop or the homes that are Estate property can deteriorate or worse, can be vandalized. Insurance on homes can lapse and the Decedent’s automobiles will not be insured if it is driven by anyone other than the appointed fiduciary. The services of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia can expedite this process, saving the Estate time and money.

If anyone who thinks that they can settle an Estate without the services of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia he or she will be fortunate to encounter problems at the very outset that require them to hire an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia as the problems that will be encountered as administration continues can be far more damaging.

I have found that clients retaining me as a result of finding my website on the Internet are concerned about the fees of an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia. As an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia I offer my clients a choice of fees for the routine services required to settle the Estate. The flat fee is based upon a guidelines of either or both the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. The fee goes down as the value of the gross Estate goes up. As the guidelines are based upon 1979 hourly rates they are very reasonable by 21st century standards. As an Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia you can retain me to settle an Estate knowing what my fee will be for routine services before we even start the probate procedure. The fee is 7% of the first $25,000 of the gross Estate. That means that 93% of the first $25,000 will be available to the beneficiaries of the Estate after the legal fees of an experienced Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia have been paid. The percentage drops to 6% and lower as the value of the Gross estate increases. I will also agree to an hourly fee based upon my billable rate if a client believes this will result in a lower fee. In addition the Estate Lawyer in Philadelphia will save the Estate more by settling some debts at a fraction of the claim, saving Inheritance taxes and Income taxes because of his knowing the interrelation of the tax laws and fulfilling all of the legal requirements of Estate administration. Once we have agreed to a fee that will be set unless there are unusual problems that require litigation or there are disputes among the beneficiaries.