Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog

Posted on Friday, November 27th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

If you have named your children as beneficiaries of your individual retirement account (IRA), you have likely made a mistake that exposes the IRA to your children’s spouses, to their creditors and to easily avoidable future inheritance and estate taxes. Forming and naming an IRA Trust for your child as the beneficiary easily corrects this mistake.

Congress requires that all qualified retirement plans—including IRAs, SEP-IRAs, 401(k) plans, and 403(b) plans—must allow an IRA Trust to be named as a beneficiary. By doing so, Congress allows you to form an IRA Trust for your child that allows the Inherited plan to remain tax-deferred. Read more »

Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

At Klenk Law, we are often asked to incorporate our clients’ religious principles into their estate plans. Recently, we have noticed a significant increase of inquiries regarding Sharia Compliant Wills, which is an excellent topic for discussion.

Source of Principles

The four sources for the principles that guide Sharia Compliant Wills are:

  • the Qur’an,
  • Sunnah,
  • Ijma, and
  • the Qiyas.

Read more »

Posted on Saturday, November 21st, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My dad died recently and his estate-planning attorney wants to charge us a percentage of the estate to act as the probate lawyer. I see that you charge hourly. Which is better?

I have found over the years that charging a percentage of the estate as the estate’s lawyer is seldom fair. Usually the percentage is disproportionate to the work done. I find that being paid hourly for actual work done is fair for everyone. Either way is legal and proper, I just feel more comfortable charging by the hour. Read more »

Posted on Friday, November 20th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

At the end of October, the IRS announced the 2016 estate and gift tax lifetime exemption and annual gift tax exclusion. These amounts are tied to inflation, which has been minimal due to a number of factors—especially the lack of a federal interest rate hike during the first three quarters of 2015.

The estate and gift tax lifetime exemption rose from $5.43 million in 2015 to $5.45 million in 2016. This means married couples can pass on $10.9 million free from federal estate tax. The annual gift exclusion did not increase, and will remain at $14,000 for 2016. Read more »

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My friend died and his executor is allowing his hosting account to lapse. Could he have set aside funds to maintain his website?

It is possible to set up a trust to maintain the cost of a website. This needs to be carefully done to provide checks and balances to make sure the trustee carries out your intent. I find a trusted Protector an excellent and inexpensive tool. If a person has a website that he wishes to continue after death, it is important to make sure access data is easily available to the executor. Read more »

Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother died a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania survived by three sons. She had no will. One of my brothers has signed the renunciation giving me the right to serve as the Administrator. My other brother is homeless and I don’t know where he is, so what can I do?

The Register of Wills may issue Letters of Administration to give authority to someone to act as the Administrator of an estate if the person died without a will. The statue spells out who has a right to serve, and if the person dies without a spouse then each child has the right to serve. Most often, the children will agree on one person to serve and the other children will complete renunciations in favor of that person.
Read more »

Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: After reading the information on your site, I believe my brother used undue influence to get my father to change his will. If I decide to challenge the will, where will the trial be held? How long will the process take?

Will contests are heard by the judges in the Montgomery County Orphans’ Court. The Montgomery County Orphans’ Court is located in Norristown. In many cases, will contest challenges settle before a trial. If the case settles, the parties could agree to terms in a matter of weeks, months or it could be on the courthouse steps minutes before trial. Read more »

Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My Mom’s will says that all estate money is divided equally between her children. The Personal Representative said she would be writing us equal checks. It has been 9 months and I have not received a check. How do I get her to hold up her end of the will terms?

New Jersey gives the Personal Representative a great deal of unsupervised power to handle the estate. If you feel that this power is being abused, you have the right to force her to appear in court and explain herself. You can hire an attorney experienced in Surrogate’s Court litigation who can file for you a Petition forcing the Personal Representative to file a Schedule of Distribution, which is her road-map plan of how she will distribute the estate’s assets. Read more »

Posted on Sunday, November 1st, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My neighbor said that she was going to leave me money in her will. But, at my neighbor’s death, a friend of hers filed a will with the Chester County Register of Wills that gave everything to the friend. I think the will is a forgery. Is there a statute of limitations period for me to challenge the will?

Yes. If you had acted before the will was filed, you could have had your Chester Probate Attorney file a caveat with the Chester County Register of Wills. This would have prevented the friend from obtaining Letters Testamentary until you had the chance to review the Will and decide if you were going to contest it. Read more »

Posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother has Alzheimer’s, and my uncle has been handling her money for several years as her power of attorney. My sister and I are not given any information about how he is handling her money. Recently, he took his family on a long cruise that I know he could never afford on his own money. My sister and I feel he must have used our mother’s money to pay for his vacation. What can we do?

Your mother’s Power of Attorney names your uncle as her “Agent.” As Agent, he has a fiduciary duty to use those powers to care for your mother. In Pennsylvania, the Agent is given broad powers and very little oversight, but an interested person being able to easily get a court order for the Agent to account for every penny counter balances this flexibility. Read more »