McClellan Legal LLC Estate Planning & Tax Assessment Blog

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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Monday, May 6, 2019

Living Will: How is it Different from a Will?

Many people ask me to explain the difference between a Living Will and a Will. They are two completely different documents and address different issues. A Will is only implemented when you pass away and allows you to select the beneficiaries of your estate, the executor of your estate, and name guardians for any minor children. A Will also allows you to describe how and when your beneficiaries will receive their inheritance.

A Living Will is a health care document that allows you to retain control over whether you want your life to be prolonged using artificial means when you are incapacitated and have a terminal condition or are permanently unconscious.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Consider Appealing Your Assessment Again in 2019

Based on recent changes in the Common Level Ratio (CLR), 2019 is the perfect time to consider appealing again.  The Common Level Ratio reflects an average property value appreciation for the county as compared to a base year assessment (e.g., 1998).    

Understanding Common Level Ratio

The CLR for Chester County has been trending up over the last several years:

     2011: 1.
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Have You Protected Your Spouse Via Planning?

My clients tell me that protecting the financial well-being of their spouse is one of their most important planning objectives.  Clients are often concerned with ensuring that enough assets go to their spouse and ensuring that their spouse has the experience to confidently manage the assets.  Estate planning can solve these issues to protect a surviving spouse.

Ensure Transfer of Assets to Your Surviving Spouse

In many states (including Pennsylvania), a surviving spouse may not automatically receive all the assets owned by a deceased spouse.  For assets that are jointly owned by both spouses, this is not usually an issue.
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Monday, February 25, 2019

Inheriting Retirement Assets is Tricky Business

For most people, a very large amount of their wealth is associated with their retirement accounts including traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401ks, etc.  However, retirement assets are often overlooked during the estate planning process.  Do you have retirement assets that would result in a payout of over $100,000 per beneficiary?  If so, you must keep reading.  Even if you do not currently have a large retirement account, this article provides some solutions to common mistakes regarding inheriting retirement assets.  Ignoring retirement assets is the single biggest mistake that I've seen in estate planning.
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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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113 South Broad Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348
| Phone: 610-444-5552

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