We provide extensive estate planning services, including the preparation of estate planning documents and assisting with business succession planning. While no one wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps our clients can take to protect themselves, their loved ones and their assets. Proper estate planning can also spare your family from the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
Providing for Incapacity
In the event of incapacity, most individuals are unable to manage their own financial affairs. Many clients are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over their affairs if incapacity occurs. The reality is that without proper estate planning documentation, in order for others to manage your finances, they must petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. If your goal is to have your family take over your affairs, it is critical that you designate a person in proper legal documents and cloak them with the authority to withdraw funds from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell securities, and/or refinance your home, if necessary.
In addition to planning for the financial aspect of your affairs during incapacity, a plan should be established for medical care. The law allows individuals to appoint someone – for example, a family member or close friend – to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. Finally, you should also have a living will which offers guidance to others of your preferred medical treatment such as the use of extraordinary measures in the event of permanent unconscious.
Planning for Death Taxes
Upon death, the IRS will review your estate to determine if you owe them that one final tax: federal estate tax. Whether tax is due and owing depends upon the size of one’s estate and how one’s estate plan works. Many states have their own estate and inheritance taxes that you must be addressed. While there are many effective strategies that can be implemented to reduce or eliminate death taxes, individuals must start planning process early in order to implement these plans. We work with you and your family members to ensure that your estate planning objectives are achieved, while at the same time, minimizing any possible tax exposure at death.
Business Succession Planning
No company can survive without a competent owner, executive, or shareholder at its helm. In the event of a key member’s sudden death, illness, or retirement, businesses are often left scrambling to recover lost assets and find a replacement. Large corporations and small businesses alike can avoid a tumultuous transition by creating a succession plan with a knowledgeable attorney. Cooper Schall and Levy is often called upon to assist business owners with implementing such a plan. Without such a plan, disputes may occur between the remaining owners or family members of the deceased owner.
Our firm has attorneys with expertise in business and estate planning to help owners make a plan to ensure a smooth transition. Properly drafted succession plans provide the remaining members of the company with a procedure to follow in the event that the unexpected happens. With so many factors to consider, it is important that you consult an experienced business planning attorney who can understand all of the interests at stake and work with you to protect them.
Contact our Philadelphia estate planning attorney for a consultation regarding your case.