Who do you want to give your assets to when you pass away? This is not a question most Pennsylvania residents like to think about. It is probably something you do not want to face, but failing to do so will only cause problems for your loved ones in the end. Putting together a clear estate plan that meets all the qualifications to be legally valid takes time and thought. It is not something you should rush into doing, but it is not something you should put off either.
There is a lot that goes into an estate plan. Not only can it include protections for you should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, but it can also include detailed instructions for whom you wish to leave your property. Figuring out who you want to be your beneficiaries will determine how to structure your estate plan.
Different estate plan structures
There are a few common estate plan structures people tend to follow. Personal preference is the only thing that drives a person to choose one structure over another. The three that will be discussed are:
- Give to those who need
- Give to those who gave
- Give to all beneficiaries equally
If you have family members who don't need an inheritance, you can choose to give your assets to those who do -- such as friends and charitable organizations. If you have someone who is always there for you, helping and caring for you -- or at least you believe that they will -- you can choose to provide them a more substantial inheritance than you give those family members who did not give of their time and resources for your benefit. Finally, you can choose to divide your assets evenly between designated beneficiaries.
You do you
You have to write your estate plan how you want it. It is about you, your wants and wishes. At the end of the day, there are those who may try to challenge its contents no matter what you do. Just make your preferences known and clear.
As long as you keep your plan up to date and you are of sound mind at the time of its creation or modifications, the structure you choose should be honored and enforced. If you are not sure how you would like to structure your estate plan or do not know how detailed you'd like to make it, legal counsel can discuss your goals and help you go from there.