Most of my clients in Lancaster, Pennsylvania who desire an effective estate plan can achieve their goals with well-crafted wills, powers of attorneys and advance health directives. There is no advantage to having a living trust from an inheritance tax standpoint, unless the trust is irrevocable. However, to qualify as an irrevocable trust, the settlor (maker of the trust) must give up all right, title and control over assets put in the trust. I have not had any clients who are willing to do this. One major misunderstanding of people looking to set up an estate plan is the belief that probate is a cumbersome, time consuming and expensive process. In some states that may be true, but it is not case in Pennsylvania. So, if the thought is to have a revocable living trust, which requires retitling of assets, to avoid probate, this thought is misguided. If the thought is to place control of one’s assets in the hands of a third party because a person is not up to the task of overseeing his or her financial assets, a durable power of attorney will achieve the same goal at much less cost.
I am more than happy to discuss the issues surrounding estate planning, asset protection, and the probate process with you. Please contact me at your convenience.