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
Under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Law Commission, Act 72, fiduciaries have the legal authority to access and manage the digital assets of a person who has become incapacitated or has died. This includes the executor of the estate.
As a Scranton estate lawyer can explain, the executor of the estate is usually chosen by the decedent and identified in their will. The executor is tasked with making sure all issues of the estate are addressed and wrapped up. They take care of final expenses, notify any potential beneficiaries, obtain death certificates, sell any property that is not going to be distributed, and close up all other matters of the decedent’s estate.
At first glance, access to digital accounts may not seem necessary for completing these tasks, but there are often issues that need to be addressed that are online. For example, the executor may need to:
- Pay the decedent’s bills online
- Obtain phone numbers and/or addresses stored in online accounts
- Make administrative changes to a blog or social media account
- Terminate subscriptions that can only be accessed online and will continue to incur costs
- Pay or manage insurance premiums
- Access online storage accounts to print or transfer important photographs
How the Act Ensures Executors Have Access to Your Accounts
There are two ways that you can provide easy access to your online digital accounts. Many custodians of online accounts have a process where the user can choose to direct the custodian to disclose (or not disclose) access to their account.
You can also specify in your will what your final wishes are when it comes to accessing these accounts, including how this information can be used. Just because you give your executor permission to access these accounts, it does not mean they have to have all access.
If a person fails to do either of the above two options, under the Uniform Law Commission, Act 72, an executor can still gain legal access to digital accounts. However, since this is not the optimal option, it is recommended that people specify their wishes about digital assets in their estate plans.
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
A Scranton, PA estate lawyer can help you plan your future – and a lawyer from Hoegen & Associates, P.C. can make life easier for your friends and family when you’re no longer around. Read on to learn more about probate, and get in touch with us for a free consultation today.
- Your Assets Don’t Magically Appear On Someone’s Doorstep.
When you die – and if you were responsible enough to create a will – you leave behind more than just a legacy and fond memories. You’re leaving behind a list of assets (everything you own, from real estate to collections and investments) and a list of beneficiaries (those lucky few you’d like to give your assets to after your death).
Unfortunately, after your death, your assets don’t just teleport to your beneficiaries automatically. While we’d all appreciate the convenience, there’s actually several steps that your friends and family need to take in order to see a single cent. This long process is called probate.
- Probate Takes Several Steps.
Probate is a challenging process. Put as plainly as possible, it’s the process through which your assets are divided and distributed between all your beneficiaries. Giving your belongings away after you die is actually a lengthy and challenging process, and you may want to get in touch with a Scranton estate lawyer to make it a little easier.
Probate begins when all of your beneficiaries are notified of your death, and it ends when your beneficiaries receive what you’ve bequeathed to them. However, in between those points is a maze of tracking down assets, getting your assets valued by professionals, notifying courts, and paying fee after fee. Fortunately, you choose who can handle the process.
- You Need To Appoint An Executor.
When it comes to probate, you need to make sure your estate is being handled by someone you can trust. An executor is a person you know – friends, family, or other close relation – that you’ve chosen to carry out the instructions provided in your will.
If you don’t name an executor, the state may choose one instead. This isn’t ideal: Usually it’s a close family member, but there’s no guarantee that the family member chosen by the court has your best interests in mind.
- An Estate Lawyer Can Help.
When you’re planning for your future, you need to know who you can trust. Fortunately, an estate lawyer can help you figure out who should be your executor, and much more. When you contact an estate lawyer, you’re getting a valuable resource who can walk you through your assets, your beneficiaries, and the will you leave behind.
It’s important to get in touch with a lawyer before you create a will. But you should remember that not all lawyers are created equal.
- Not All Lawyers Are Created Equal.
Some lawyers are just in it for the money, and others aren’t experienced enough to help you when you need them most. Fortunately, Hoegen & Associates, P.C. provide free consultations and dedicated case management, and our lawyers go the extra mile to make sure your future is secured – not just for yourself, but for your family and friends as well.
Get in touch with us today to see how a Scranton Estate Lawyer from our office can help.
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.