Author: mcoulter

Guardianship: What, When, Why

By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney One fear of many elder citizens is the possibility of reaching the point in their life when a guardian may be appointed to oversee their lives. This concern is often twofold in nature: First, the fear of being in a mental state in which they can not function adequately, and second, the fear of having control over some or all of their life activities being in someone else’s hands. This article will acquaint you with guardianship practice,...

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Giving Power to Others to Make Decisions for You

By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney Scientists estimate that the Earth has been in existence for 4.5 billion years. During that time, it has managed to keep on spinning, tides going in and out, sun rising and setting, without any help from you or me. That is the way life operates today too: It keeps moving forwards even when we aren’t able to do our part to help. Most people live their lives with the reasonable assumption that tomorrow will be pretty much like yesterday...

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Generation Skipping Tax Explained

By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney For those people who expect to see their estate be subject to substantial estate taxes, one enticing work-around has been to leave some property in their will to their grandchildren, skipping over their own children, based on their own calculation that the children will just end up leaving portions of their inheritance to the grandchildren. The goal is to avoid one layer of taxation by skipping over the tax which would be paid if the money...

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Failure: Common Estate Planning Mistakes

By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney Estate planning is nothing new. People have been making wills since the ancient times. Archeologists have discovered a will from 2550 B.C. from Sekhenren to his wife Teta, believed to be the oldest written will in existence. So, for about 5000 years we have been making written wills. Despite this lengthy history, we still see people making the same mistakes, over and over. Most times, it is because of a failure to take the time to consult...

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Advanced Estate Planning Options

Tools for larger estates and complex goals By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney The vast majority of people never need to get beyond a basic Will, Revocable Living Trust, Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will/Health Care Proxy to address their estate planning needs. If, however, your estate is particularly large (2-3 times greater than the lifetime Gift Tax exclusion amount, or double the exemption amount for Estate Tax, more or less), then you may be looking for...

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Pennsylvania ABLE: Providing for our Special Needs Loved Ones

By Colin B. May, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney As a friend, parent, grandparent, or sibling of a person with a physical or mental disability, you know that we define our loved ones not by any particular limitation, but by who they are and what they bring to our lives. We share in times of joy and help one another through difficult times. And yet, we recognize that each person in our lives faces challenges that are unique and different from our own. At our firm, we assist families...

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Living Trusts: Removing the Mystery

By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney People are often confused by the workings of a Living Trust, and have trouble making a decision regarding whether one is right for their plan. Living Trusts can be a valuable estate planning tool, but are not the easy answer to every estate planning question. Many salesmen, very few of them trained attorneys, pitch Living Trust kits to the public in much the same way that snake oil salesmen appealed to our ancestors. Instead of falling...

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Can’t I Just Write My Own Will?

By Mark T. Coulter, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney Pennsylvania is perhaps the easiest state in the U.S. for people who want to create their own “legal” Last Will and Testament. All that the law requires here is that your Will be in writing, signed at the end, and reflect your intention to dispose of assets at your death. So anyone should be able to do that, right? A Recent Example There is a big difference, however, between a Will being “legal” and a Will being “good”.  A recent...

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The Basics of Managing a Supplemental Needs Trust

By Colin B. May, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney There are many public programs available in Pennsylvania to provide benefits to a loved one with special needs. While understanding the strict guidelines and rules of these programs can be a daunting task, many of these challenges can be overcome with proper accounting, tax, and estate guidance and planning. The area of estate planning provides a number of useful solutions for this purpose, and one particular tool is known as a “Supplemental...

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Your Resource in Administering an Estate

By Colin B. May, Esquire Estate Planning Attorney After a loved one or close friend dies, the funeral is only the beginning of the involved process to come. This process is known as “probate” or estate administration and it is the court-based system whereby a person appointed “executor” or “administrator” acts as a manager of the estate: satisfying debts and taxes, informing those involved in the process, paying taxes, and ultimately passing property from the deceased person to the beneficiaries...

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