Cunningham, Chernicoff & Warshawsky, P.C.

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As of May 29, 2020, Dauphin County, where our office is located, has moved from Red to Yellow status. Our office will re-open on June 1, 2020. Until further notice, Stay Safe Guidelines will be followed, including safe social distancing (6 feet), cleaning after each client and the wearing of masks by employees and clients at all times while in our office. People who are ill and those without masks will not be permitted entry into our office.

The importance of hiring an estate planning attorney

Ideally, you’ll hire a Pennsylvania estate planning attorney to help with the process of drafting a will, trust or other plan documents. Furthermore, it may be in your best interest to have an attorney review those documents at least once per year.

Attorneys can create custom documents

The template estate plan documents that you may find online, at the library or from other sources might not fully meet your needs. For example, a standard will might be fine if you have few assets or fewer than three beneficiaries. However, the larger your estate is, the more important it becomes to have a will tailored to the needs of yourself and your beneficiaries.

What happens if your needs change?

A standard will or trust may become obsolete if changes are made to the federal tax code. In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the federal estate tax exemption to $11.58 million. This means that any estate planning steps previously taken to minimize your estate tax bill may have been rendered unnecessary. However, the exemption is expected to go revert to 2017 levels after the law expires in 2025. In 2017, the estate tax exemption was $5.49 million. An estate planning attorney may be able to provide insight into the role these changes may play as it relates to meeting your plan goals.

Don’t invite legal challenges

Wills that are poorly worded may be considered invalid by a probate judge. Furthermore, vague phrasing may provide a spouse, child or other family member grounds to contest your will. As a general rule, an attorney will take multiple steps to ensure that your plan documents are unlikely to fall apart under scrutiny.