Estate Administration Lawyer Scranton, PA
A Scranton, PA estate administration lawyer knows that over the years, the dynamic of families is much different than it was decades ago. Today, especially with the high rate of divorce and remarriage, families are often blended – made up of biological children and stepchildren. At Hoegen & Associates, P.C., we have experience working with all kinds of families in coming with the best estate plan for each family’s circumstances.
Studies on Blended Families and Wills
Multiple studies have been conducted on blended families and estate planning. One major study was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examining just how parents are dividing up their estates when they have biological children and stepchildren and how these relationships affect the amount of those inheritances.
Although one may think that having stepchildren would result in an unequal bequest to their non-biological children, the study showed that it was only a factor in about 30 percent of parents surveyed. The majority of survey participants reported that their stepchildren received equal – or in some cases – even additional assets over their biological children.
There were also parents surveyed that did not have stepchildren but reported uneven asset distribution among their biological children. The rate of this occurring almost doubled if the parents had not had contact with their children for more than a year. Adult children who stayed close to their parents were more likely to inherit more than children who stayed away.
This bonding time also applied to stepchildren. If parents spent more bonding time with their stepchildren that had been in their lives for at least a decade than their biological children, that stepchild is more likely to be included in the parent’s will.
One troubling statistic that emerged from this survey was that two out of every five participants admitted they did not have a will drafted. Even though failure to have a will could affect their stepchildren’s entitlement to inherit anything from the parent’s estate, the most common reason giving for this lack of a will was their unease at contemplating their own death. Current law does not make provisions for any children other than biological children’s rights to their parent’s estate if the parent failed to have a will specifying their wishes.
Another important factor, especially if your children and stepchildren are minors, is that a will is also where parents name who they wish to be named as their child’s legal guardian should something happen to them. Should something happen to you and your spouse, if you don’t have a legal guardian named, the court will do it and the person they choose may not be the same person you would have chosen.
Contact an Estate Lawyer for More Information
You are never too young to make a will. All parents, whether your child is biological, adopted, or a stepchild should consider meeting with a skilled Scranton, PA estate administration lawyer to find out what type of estate planning options you may have. If you would like to learn more, call Hoegen & Associates, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.
Reasons To Develop An Estate Plan
A Scranton estate planning lawyer holds the tools necessary to ensure that a concrete and well-thought-out estate plan is developed. Because of this, it’s crucial for those who don’t have a plan in place to strategically develop a plan for the future. Estate planning with an experienced professional can ensure that their plans for the future are protected and carried out in the way that they were intended. An estate plan is far more advantageous than many realize and far more comprehensive than a will. A last will and testament is merely one tool available for those developing a plan. With a lawyer, it’s possible to create a plan that allows the testator to define their wishes for the future clearly. The following are common reasons Hoegen & Associates, P.C. shares that an estate plan should be considered:
#1. Protect Assets from Probate
When a person passes away, the probate process is a required legal process that validates the will and appoints the executor. Most importantly, all estates will be required to pass through probate. This can be particularly stressful for families concerned about their inheritance being depleted through the probate process or their private affairs being exposed to anyone who bothers to look. However, probate doesn’t have to be a feared process. With proper planning, it’s possible to prevent the number of assets that will pass through probate.
#2. Prevent Familial Conflict
When a person passes away without outlining their plans for the future, loved ones will want a voice in the process. As a result, everyone will think they know what the person who has passed would have wanted. Unfortunately, this can be highly problematic, breeding conflict within the family, which could become a costly and lengthy legal process. It’s important to note that even with an estate plan in place, it will be necessary to discuss these plans with family and loved ones so they can have the opportunity to ask questions and clearly understand what your wishes would have been.
#3. Clearly Outlines a Plan for Children
One of the most important reasons to have an estate plan is to ensure that children are properly cared for should neither parent be able to care for the child. When a person dies without an estate plan, the court will help make these critical decisions. Conflict may ensue without a plan, especially when families are not in agreement over who will care for the children. An estate plan can allow a person to appoint guardianship over their children, plan for them financially, and outline a plan for their future care.
The Role of the Estate Administrator
When a person develops their estate plan, one of the most critical decisions that must be made is to appoint someone to oversee their estate and carry their wishes out accordingly. An estate administrator or executor is legally appointed to resolve the estate, pay debts and taxes, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. It’s essential to be aware that this is not a role that should be taken lightly. When a person is developing their estate plan, they should take the time to appoint someone they trust carefully but who is up for taking on this significant responsibility.
While developing a plan for the future can seem like a hefty one, one to put off for another day, this is not recommended. By taking the time to outline future wishes, a person can ensure that they have planned for a time when they can no longer make decisions on their own. To learn more about the services offered by our Scranton estate planning lawyer from Hoegen & Associates, P.C., schedule a consultation as soon as possible.