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Estate planning for Pennsylvania families with special circumstances

Estate planning is important for families, particularly when a loved one has special needs or is estranged from the rest of the family, requiring special provisions for your circumstances.
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    December 24, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Estate planning for Pennsylvania families with special circumstances

Article provided by Berman & Asbel, LLP
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According to the HSBC -- one of the world's largest financial and banking services organizations -- more than half of the retirees in the U.S. intend to leave an inheritance for their loved ones. Through estate planning, substantial amounts of money will transfer to family members as parents, grandparents and other relatives pass away.

On average, family members in Pennsylvania and other states across the nation received about $175,000 by inheritance and about a third of them receive substantial monetary gifts while their loved ones are still alive. The bare statistics belie the emotional and relational difficulties some families experience when it comes time to make estate planning decisions.

No family is perfect and most, at times, suffer from disappointments and faults of certain family members. Interfamily issues and concerns can come into play when establishing your estate plan.

Excluding an heir

Maybe you have sufficiently provided for a child or other family member during your lifetime. Maybe an estrangement or irreconcilable difference leaves you wanting to exclude an heir from receiving part of your estate. Whatever your reason, you must address this issue head-on in your estate plan documents.

With the exception of your spouse, none of your family members can legally demand a portion of your estate should you decide to disinherit them. However, in general, you must do so expressly in a properly drafted will or trust.

Other alternatives

Whether due to mental illness, drug addiction or an inability to handle one's own finances, certain family members may require special handling. Fortunately, there are various options available for those wishing to provide for those unable to care for themselves.

A guardianship may be advisable for an incapacitated loved one or necessary for one too young or inexperienced to take care of her or her own needs. Guardianships are commonly established for minor children when both parents pass on at a young age. In their mutual wills, the parents designate who will take over the care and finances for their children before they reach the age of majority. A conservatorship or guardianship may also be established for elderly parents who are no longer able to make their own decisions.

Trusts are also common when planning the disbursement of an estate. Many parents establish a trust to hold their assets until their children are of a certain age when the parents believe they are more able to handle large amounts of money. Maybe they want their children to learn how to make their own way in this world before coming into an inheritance.

Tailoring a trust to fit special circumstances is easily accomplished with the assistance of an estate planning attorney. A trust allows you to give an inheritance to a loved one while having a trustee use his or her discretion to pay that person's rent, schooling or other living expenses. You can also use the versatility of a trust to encourage a child to steer clear of a gambling or drug problem; money can be very motivating.

A Pennsylvania attorney can help

If you do not have an estate plan, or have not recently reviewed your existing plan, consult an experienced estate planning lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about estate tax, probate, trust administration and complex estate planning can help you establish a plan that meets your desires and the needs of your family.

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