Families today come in all shapes and sizes. With the holidays right around the corner, many of us are thinking of those big family gatherings. What to cook, what to plan, and most especially — who to invite. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, most families would not fail to invite the in-laws. But for many families, a discussion of estate planningand the family inheritance is another matter. Decisions about your Last Will and Testamentcan be complex and personal matters. One of the first things to consider when planning your estate is “Who counts as family?” The question may seem obvious in the present day, but when you’re planning for the future, it’s important to consider whether your expanding brood will include divorces and, thus, step-relationships.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 40% of American families have at least one step-relative in their immediate family. Of course, this means a lot of ex-husbands and step-mothers that may or may not be invited to Thanksgiving dinner. But it also means complications in estate planning that can lead to serious consequences. A knowledgeable PA Estate Attorney will tell you that overall, family wealth tends to dissipate. With only 10% of families succeeding in passing a family fortune along to the fourth generation, it’s clear that it’s important to plan for the future and not just leave things to chance.
Families interested in creating a plan to maximize the succession of wealth should meet with their financial advisor and an experienced Pennsylvania Estate Planning attorney to discuss their intentions for estate planning. One question to consider before meeting with your PA Wills & Estates attorney is how you would treat spouses of children. For most people, it’s a no-brainer that their children will be beneficiaries of their estate plan, but what about the spouse? If your children have children, think about the impact of including a grandchild as a beneficiary, but leaving out one of that child’s parents.
One important thing to remember about estate planning is that it’s never over! Many people think that once they’ve drafted and executed their Last Will and Testament they can check that off their to-do list and will never need to revisit. This is a dangerous misconception. Because circumstances change overtime, individuals should be mindful to revisit their estate plan often and make adjustments accordingly.
The biggest example of when an estate plan should be revisited is after a divorce. Divorce changes everything and your estate plan is no exception. Without the careful guidance of a PA Divorce Lawyer who is experienced with estate planning, you could end up leaving your fourtune to your ex-wife or accidentally disinheriting children from your first marriage because they are not beneficiaries on a life insurance policy!
If you haven’t done so already, the time to create your estate plan is now! Contact our office today to set up a consultation with a knowledgeable PA Wills and Estates Attorney today.