Estate Planning Attorneys

Our firm works with individuals, couples, and businesses to plan for estate preservation and succession. We work with our clients to perform a comprehensive analysis of all threats to personal and business assets and to permit our clients to be prepared as well as possible for every legal contingency. This work involves the use of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Shareholder Agreements, Partnership Agreements, Life Insurance Trusts, Charitable Remainder and Annuity Trusts, Grantor Retained Trusts, IIOTs, and gift Trusts.


Wills and Trusts Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important Estate Planning document? Without a doubt it is the Power of Attorney is the most important estate document. If you don’t have this, you won’t likely be able to survive with any money.

What is a Letter of Instruction?  This is a valuable document since, many times, the Executor is unaware of the assets in the estate and the location of the assets.  A good letter from the Decedent goes a long way toward tracking and locating assets.

Who should have a Will? Just about everyone is interested in controlling what happens to their assets when they die rather than leaving it up to the state.

Are there any other documents that should be done when preparing a Will?  POAs and Advance Directives.

What are “per stirpes” and “per capita” ? Per stirpes means “on the head of” and directs a beneficiary’s share to his issue based upon what he would receive.  Per capita divides equally among the heirs, not limiting it to what the initial beneficiary would have gotten.  For example, if you say, “to my children, but if any of them do not survive me, then to their children per stirpes,” it means that the children of the deceased child would take that child’s share.   In other words, it doesn’t reduce the percentage of living children.  If you said per capita, the grandchildren AND the surviving children would get equal shares.

How is property distributed without a Will? By operation of law – like joint accounts and joint tenancy property or by process of contracts like the beneficiary designation of life insurance, annuities, and IRAs.

Who is competent to make a Will? It takes less capacity to do a Will than a contract, but you still must be able to

What are the formal requirements for a Will? In PA, there are very few actually – writing signed at the end will do it.  It can even be in your handwriting.  If these are not “self-proved,” the signature must be attested to during probate.

What is a self-proving Will? Signed before witnesses and a notary – it can be taken to probate court without the need for further proof of the signature.

What is a Living Trust? A trust that is formed by someone during their lifetime and is usually revocable.  For tax purposes, these are ignored.

What is an irrevocable Trust? A trust that cannot be changed after it is funded although in this state, just about any trust can be terminated if all the interested parties agree.

What is an IIOT or IDIOT Trust? These are “income only” or “intentionally defective income only” trusts and are used to directly hold assets of a parent while keeping the taxation and control of those trusts within the parent.

Does a Trust protect my assets from a nursing home? Not every trust does this.  Some insurance salesmen would have you believe that a revocable Trust can keep assets safe, and this is not true at all and can make some assets (family home, for example) available instead of exempt.

Should I use a corporate Trustee? Short answer: unless you need large-scale administration, then no, a thousand times no.

Do trusts save taxes? No.  They are taxed at higher rates than individuals.  What they permit is to take action that will eventually save assets that would have been subject to expenses and taxes if kept in an individual’s name too long.  They are excellent tools for long-term care planning.

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The Elder Law Attorneys at Shober and Rock represent clients with a wide range of needs

. Call (215) 345-4301 today to consult with our experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers and estate planning lawyer in Doylestown, PA.