It is generally a good idea for Pennsylvania adults to have an estate plan. The complexity of your plan and the documents that you need will vary based on your individual situation, but there are a few basic documents everyone will need.
Preparing for incapacity
Some people think that they do not need an estate plan because they are young or they have no dependents. However, there are a few important points to keep in mind. First, an estate plan is not just about planning what happens to your assets. It is also about what happens if you become incapacitated. People of any age could have an accident or become suddenly ill. This is where powers of attorney come in handy. The agent named in a power of attorney can appoint people to take care of any financial matters on your behalf if you are unable to do so. You can also prepare a power of attorney or a similar document, such as an advance health care directive, that appoints someone to make health care decision on your behalf. A living will can outline your health care preferences.
A will is a useful way of passing on assets such as a vehicle, a bank account, a home and other property. You can name guardians for your minor children in your will. You can also include sentimental items. If you have a more complex situation, such as a blended family or a loved one you want to leave assets to who may spend irresponsibly, you might want to use a trust. Some assets, such as retirement accounts, can be passed by beneficiary designation.
Once you have created an estate plan, it is important to keep it updated. Throughout your life, you will experience changes in your family and in your assets. There may also be changes in tax law that mean you should change your strategy. You should make sure that your family knows where to find your estate planning documents. You may also want to discuss the plan with them.