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McClellan Legal LLC Estate Planning & Tax Assessment Blog

Friday, October 18, 2019

Five Essential Documents for Estate Planning


During our initial call, our new clients commonly ask us to draft only a Will. We like to explain to our clients that estate planning is more than one document. Instead, you will need a few documents that work together to best express your wishes and achieve your estate planning goals. Our basic estate planning includes a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. The last essential document is the Beneficiary Designation Form, which you obtain from the bank.
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Friday, October 18, 2019

Are your Out-of-State Estate Planning Documents Still Valid?


People move from one state to another for a myriad of reasons: better education for their children, job relocation, retirement, etc. Moving can be stressful and all-encompassing. Once you have settled into your new home, you may believe that the moving process has been completed. However, you should consider updating your estate planning documents to reflect your move.

If your Will was properly executed in one state (e.
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Friday, September 27, 2019

Retirement Accounts and the SECURE Act


Earlier this summer, the United States House of Representatives passed The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act almost unanimously. However, the Senate has not made the decision to pass this bill yet. The SECURE Act, if passed as it is currently written, may lead you to reconsider your retirement planning.

One of the most important ways the SECURE Act may help you is by altering the forced withdrawal age from 70.5 to 72 years old.
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Friday, September 27, 2019

Planning For Your Child's Inheritance


One of the biggest decisions that people need to make when drafting their estate planning documents is determining how and when their children or grandchildren will receive their inheritance.  The law requires that a minor child’s inheritance be managed in a trust until they reach adulthood, usually 18 or 21 years old depending on the state in which you reside. Then, the issue arises when the child reaches that age. It may not be wise to give your young adult child full access to all of your assets, which includes retirement accounts, life insurance payouts, home equity, etc.  If you do not execute effective estate planning documents, this is exactly what will happen.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Don't Make Estate Planning's Biggest Mistake


When developing your estate plan, I do not recommend following Ron Popeil’s catchphrase of “Set it and forget it!”  Estate planning requires a coordinated effort of drafting and reviewing various documents to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Some of the biggest mistakes in estate planning is not completing or updating your beneficiary designation forms for life insurance, retirement accounts, and so on. 

Beneficiary Designations for Non-Probate Assets

Most people are aware of the importance of executing a Will to distribute their assets to their loved ones.  Assets that pass via your will are distributed via a court supervised process known as probate.  These probate assets include all property individually owned by the deceased that do not include a designated survivorship interest.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Solving the Second Home Problem


During the summer, many people enjoy spending time at their vacation home.   However, most people do not consider how to best protect these assets, especially if these properties are in another state. With proper estate planning, you can simplify the probate process and protect your assets for your beneficiaries.

If you own a property outside of the state in which you reside, you may want to consider having a Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust exists during your lifetime and after your death.


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Friday, July 12, 2019

Who's Taking Care of Your Pet?


All pet owners want to make sure that their pets receive the best care no matter what. But what happens to pets when the owner dies? With some planning, you may be able to decide what happens to your pet and who will be the caretaker. The following are a few choices for you to consider:

  1. Pet Trusts

    Pennsylvania gives its citizens the option to set up a trust to care for their pets that remains active until the death of the animal. A pet trust would allow the owner to choose who cares for the pet and give that person the funds to do so. Creating a pet trust may be necessary for many pet owners as the pets would otherwise be treated like personal property and would therefore not be eligible to receive a portion of your estate for their care.


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Friday, July 12, 2019

Estate Planning for College Expenses


Many people believe that a college education is important, but only a small minority of people are adequately saving for the ever-growing costs of their children’s education.  While college education is not the only path to future financial success, it is a proven head start that should not be ignored.  Over the past couple decades, Congress and state governments have shifted their priority from subsidizing higher education costs via grants and direct institution support to tax incentives for individuals. 

Therefore, if an individual does not adequately plan to take advantage of tax incentives offered via 529 plans, then the net cost of college will increase at an even faster rate than the current average 5% increase.  529 plans allow parents and grandparents to save more money for college expenses in a tax favorable environment without income-based limitations that are found in most tax laws.
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Friday, June 14, 2019

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Your Legacy: Learn from Aretha's Failed Plan


The world was in mourning last August when Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, passed away in her Detroit home. At the time, she was believed to have died intestate, or without a Will. However, just a couple of weeks ago, three different holographic Wills have surfaced. These Wills are said to consist of various edits, and the handwriting is being analyzed so her family may learn if Franklin herself was the author. Even with this analysis, some are doubtful that she is the author of the Will, had the mental capacity to write the Wills, and was not influenced to make any of these changes.
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families


Spouses in a first marriage generally have estate planning goals that are aligned because most of the time there are no children from prior relationships.  Typically, spouses in a first marriage own assets jointly and distribute assets upon death to the surviving spouse and then to the children equally.  This strategy does not work well for second marriages that result in a blended family where there are children from prior relationships. Your surviving spouse can do whatever he/she wants after your death, including disinheriting your children. Do you want your children’s inheritance to be gambled on whether you will outlive your spouse?

A second marriage is very different because it may include your children, your spouse’s children, and sometimes joint children.
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Monday, May 6, 2019

Disinheriting Someone: Proceed with Caution


There are situations that arise when your estate plan may include specifically disinheriting someone.  My clients have mentioned several reasons to disinherit an individual, including: an estranged relationship with the individual, the individual is financially irresponsible, or the individual is already financially better off than other potential beneficiaries.  Of course, there are many other reasons that a person may be disinherited. 

Who Is Disinherited?

Who are the usual disinheriting targets?  There is no need to disinherit someone that wouldn’t naturally receive an inheritance at your death.  Disinheriting targets are those that stand to lose out if you move forward with a new Will.
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McClellan Legal LLC is located in Kennett Square and serves clients throughout the areas of Avondale, Chadds Ford, Coatesville, Downingtown, Landenberg, Oxford, Phoenixville, Pottstown, West Chester, & West Grove.



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