Estate Lawyer Scranton, PA
A Scranton, PA estate lawyer knows how critical digital assets are in today’s society, however, these assets can be disastrous for families and estate executors. Digital assets such as email accounts, online banking accounts, phone apps, photos stored in cloud accounts, digital music accounts, and more make our lives easier when we are alive but have historically caused all kinds of issues when the account holder dies. At Hoegen & Associates, P.C., we are aware of many cases where loved ones have forgotten about or failed to consider how important it was to grant access to their digital account via their estate plan and their executors were left with no way to gain access. Our estate lawyers have also heard of cases where access was permitted, but the account owners failed to keep their information updated or the accounts automatically closed upon their death, all denying access to executors.
When this happened, the problems created were many – final bills of the estate going unpaid, family photos lost forever because cloud accounts could not be accessed, and more. Luckily, the state of Pennsylvania has taken the steps to prevent these situations and provides provisions for families and executors to close out estates with digital assets.
Uniform Law Commission, Act 72
In Pennsylvania, under the provisions of Act 72 from the Uniform Law Commission, fiduciaries are granted the legal authority to manage and access the digital assets of individuals who have either passed away or become incapacitated. This authority extends to the executors of estates.
A Scranton-based estate attorney would explain that an executor, typically nominated by the decedent in their will, is responsible for the comprehensive management and closure of the decedent’s estate. This role involves several critical tasks, including settling final expenses, notifying potential beneficiaries, acquiring death certificates, selling properties that are not designated for distribution, and resolving all other relevant affairs related to the decedent’s estate.
While at first, managing digital accounts might not appear essential for these duties, it often becomes crucial due to several online-related issues that may arise. For instance, the executor may be required to:
- Make online payments for any bills left by the decedent.
- Retrieve contact information like phone numbers and addresses from online accounts.
- Conduct administrative modifications to blogs or social media profiles owned by the decedent.
- Cancel subscriptions that are accessible exclusively online, to prevent ongoing charges.
- Manage or pay insurance premiums through online platforms.
- Access digital storage services to download, print, or transfer important photographs and documents.
How the Act Ensures Executors Have Access to Your Accounts
The Uniform Law Commission’s Act 72 provides a framework for executors to legally access an individual’s digital accounts, ensuring that these assets are appropriately managed after the person’s incapacitation or death. There are primarily two methods to facilitate this access:
Directing Custodians of Online Accounts
Many digital account custodians offer a feature allowing users to specify whether they wish to grant or deny access to their accounts. This directive can be set up within the account settings, providing clear instructions to the custodian about the disclosure of account access.
Stipulations in Wills
Individuals can also articulate their preferences regarding access to their digital accounts in their wills. This includes detailed instructions on how these accounts should be accessed and the scope of this access. Importantly, granting an executor permission to access digital accounts doesn’t necessarily imply unrestricted access; limits and conditions can be set as per the individual’s discretion.
If neither of these options is utilized, Act 72 still empowers executors to gain legal access to digital accounts. However, this path may be less straightforward and can potentially lead to complications. To avoid such scenarios, it’s advised that individuals proactively include clear directives about their digital assets in their estate planning. This not only simplifies the process for the executor but also ensures that the individual’s digital legacy is handled according to their wishes.
Contact an Estate Lawyer for More Information
If you would like to learn more about estate planning, call Hoegen & Associates, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Scranton estate lawyer.
What You Need To Know About Probate
In Scranton, PA, estate planning is a critical aspect of preparing for the future, and attorneys at Hoegen & Associates, P.C. specialize in making this process smoother for you and your loved ones. This detailed guide delves into the intricacies of probate, emphasizing the importance of professional legal guidance.
Your Legacy and Assets
Creating a will is a responsible step in legacy planning. It involves listing your assets, which can range from real estate to personal collections and investments, and designating beneficiaries who will inherit these assets. However, the transfer of these assets to your beneficiaries isn’t automatic or instantaneous upon your death.
The Complexities of Probate
Probate is a legally mandated process that ensures the proper distribution of your assets as per your will. This process starts with notifying beneficiaries about the death and concludes when they receive their inheritance. However, between these points lies a complex procedure involving asset identification, valuation by professionals, legal notifications, and various fees. A qualified Scranton estate lawyer can significantly simplify this process.
Choosing an Executor
A crucial part of estate planning involves appointing an executor – a trusted individual, often a friend or family member, designated to execute the directives in your will. Without a named executor, the state may appoint one, which may not align with your best interests. The appointed executor may be a family member, but there’s no assurance they will prioritize your wishes.
The Role of an Estate Lawyer
Estate lawyers play a pivotal role in estate planning. They assist in selecting an appropriate executor, comprehensively reviewing assets, identifying beneficiaries, and drafting a will. Seeking legal advice before creating a will ensures that your estate plan is robust and reflective of your intentions.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
Not every lawyer offers the same level of expertise or commitment. Some may prioritize financial gain over client needs, while others may lack the necessary experience. Hoegen & Associates, P.C., however, stands out by offering free consultations and dedicated case management. Their lawyers are committed to ensuring your future and that of your loved ones is secure, offering comprehensive support throughout the estate planning process.
This guide underscores the need for professional legal assistance in navigating the complexities of probate and estate planning, emphasizing the value of selecting a knowledgeable and trustworthy estate lawyer.
Scranton Estate Infographic
Understanding the Different Types of Estate Planning
Estate planning can be a daunting task, but it is essential to ensure that your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes with the help of a Scranton, PA estate lawyer by your side. It is a process that involves careful consideration, reflection, and consultation with professionals that can guide you in making the right decisions. One of the most significant parts of creating an estate plan is to understand the different types of planning options available, contact Hoegen & Associates, P.C. for help.
A will is a legal document that outlines the distribution of your assets once you pass. It is a crucial foundation for any estate plan and ensures that your wishes are carried out when you die. When creating a will, a lawyer can help you assess your assets, decide on beneficiaries, and outline any specific conditions related to the distribution of your assets. This is the most common type of planning you may already know about.
Unlike a will, a trust is a legally enforceable entity that holds assets for beneficiaries. Trusts have become increasingly popular because it eliminates the need for probate, where court supervision is required for the transfer of assets. Choosing to create a trust can help to protect your assets and ensure that your beneficiaries receive the financial support they need. Trusts can also protect your money so that beneficiaries do not use the money before they are supposed to.
Power of Attorney
According to a Scranton estate lawyer, power of attorney is a legal document that grants someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf. It is beneficial in the event that you are unable to make decisions due to health or other circumstances. You can appoint someone to handle your medical and financial affairs, which provides an added layer of security.
Advance directives are legal documents that outline your healthcare wishes. These directives can include items such as a living will, which outlines the medical treatment that you wish to receive, and a healthcare proxy document, which appoints someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Special Needs Trusts
Special needs trusts are utilized for beneficiaries who have disabilities or other medical conditions. These trusts manage assets to provide support for their care without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits.
Planning for your estate can be a complex process, but it is essential for ensuring that your wishes are met after death. Understanding the different types of estate planning options and how they work can help you make informed decisions about your financial future. With the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can create a comprehensive plan that addresses your individual needs and goals. Don’t delay in starting your estate planning journey, as early planning can help protect your assets and ensure the financial stability of your beneficiaries. Contact a Scranton estate lawyer at Hoegen & Associates, P.C. today.
Scranton Estate Lawyer FAQs
A Scranton, PA estate lawyer will work closely with you in making the important decisions for the distribution of assets, minimizing taxes, and protecting the interests of beneficiaries. We’ve compiled a few questions below that further outline the specialized benefits of working with an experienced Scranton estate lawyer.
Why should I hire an estate lawyer?
Estate lawyers are legal professionals with expertise in estate planning, probate, and related matters. They possess in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws governing estate planning, tax implications, and asset distribution. By hiring an estate lawyer, you gain access to their specialized knowledge and experience, ensuring your estate plan is tailored to your unique circumstances. They can provide personalized advice, help you navigate complex legal processes, and assist in minimizing potential disputes among beneficiaries.
What are the benefits of estate planning?
Estate planning offers numerous benefits, including:
- Control over asset distribution: With a well-crafted estate plan, you can dictate how your assets will be distributed among your loved ones, charitable organizations, or other beneficiaries. This provides peace of mind and helps avoid potential conflicts or uncertainties.
- Minimization of estate taxes: An estate lawyer can guide you in implementing strategies to minimize estate taxes, potentially saving your beneficiaries significant amounts of money.
- Protection of beneficiaries: Through trust arrangements and other mechanisms, an estate plan can safeguard the interests of vulnerable beneficiaries, such as minor children or individuals with special needs, ensuring their financial security and well-being.
- Avoidance of probate: Proper estate planning can help streamline the probate process or even bypass it altogether. This saves time, reduces costs, and maintains privacy for your family.
When should I start estate planning?
Estate planning is not restricted to a specific age or financial status. Ideally, you should start estate planning as soon as you have assets or dependents that you wish to protect. Life events such as marriage, the birth of a child, or acquiring significant assets should trigger a review of your estate plan. It’s essential to consult with an estate lawyer early to create a comprehensive plan that can be adjusted as your circumstances change over time.
What documents are essential for estate planning?
Estate planning typically involves the following essential documents:
- a) Will: A will outlines how your assets will be distributed upon your death and allows you to name guardians for minor children.
- b) Trust: Trusts provide greater flexibility and control over the distribution of assets, privacy, and potential tax benefits. They can be established during your lifetime (living trust) or as part of your will (testamentary trust).
- c) Power of Attorney: This document designates someone to handle your financial and legal affairs in case of incapacity.
- d) Advance Healthcare Directive: Also known as a living will, this document outlines your medical treatment preferences and designates a healthcare proxy to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Can I create an estate plan without a lawyer?
While it is technically possible to create a basic estate plan without a lawyer, it carries significant risks. Estate planning involves complex legal issues and intricacies that require professional expertise to ensure your wishes are effectively executed. DIY approaches may lead to errors, omissions, or inconsistencies that can render your estate plan invalid or subject to legal challenges. Engaging with an estate lawyer provides the knowledge, experience, and guidance necessary to create a legally sound and comprehensive estate plan.
Don’t hesitate to contact our offices today for skilled guidance. We offer a plethora of estate planning services and will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure you have a secure financial future when you contact a Scranton estate lawyer today!
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Estate planning is an essential process that not only secures your financial legacy but also ensures peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. It involves careful consideration of various elements, such as asset distribution, appointing an executor, and understanding the nuances of probate. The complexities of these tasks cannot be understated, making the assistance of a knowledgeable estate lawyer invaluable. Hoegen & Associates, P.C., with their expertise in estate law and commitment to client-centered service, stands as a beacon of trust and proficiency in this field. Their approach to estate planning is comprehensive, ensuring that every aspect of your legacy is addressed with the utmost care and professionalism.
Choosing Hoegen & Associates, P.C. for your estate planning needs means partnering with a firm that prioritizes your wishes and offers tailored solutions to safeguard your assets. Their dedication to providing clear, concise, and legally sound advice makes the daunting task of estate planning much more manageable. With their guidance, you can navigate the intricacies of estate law with confidence, knowing that your legacy and the future of your beneficiaries are in capable hands. Estate planning is not just about preparing for the end; it’s about making thoughtful decisions that resonate through generations, and Hoegen & Associates, P.C. is committed to helping you achieve just that.