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Estate Planning Overview

Estate planning is the process of developing and implementing a plan that protects both you and your assets during your lifetime, but also a plan that delivers your assets to your heirs in a protected and tax-efficient manner. Tax planning is always important, but it serves you best when combined with an asset protection plan. Saving you tax dollars does little good if those saved dollars end up in the hands of your children’s creditors or lost to your son or daughter-in-law after a divorce from your child.

Our Firm:
You want an attorney who does nothing but estate planning. Why hire an attorney that does not put estate planning as his top priority? You want an estate planning attorney who will craft for you a unique solution to your needs after listening to your specific circumstances and concerns. You need Peter Klenk.

Wills Trusts and Estate Planning, it’s all we do!

  • Experience: We have been Wills and Trusts drafting Attorneys for over 20 years.
  • Licensed to Practice in Five States: Some attorneys are satisfied with only passing one bar exam. Always willing to accept a challenge, Peter has passed the requirements and is a member of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota, New York and Florida Bars.
  • Focused Practice: Peter Klenk’s firm doesn’t dabble, they make estate planning their top priority. Wills, Trusts and Estates, it’s all we do!
  • Military Service: While serving in the United States Navy JAGC, Peter was part of a team that was decorated for providing estate planning services to over 10,000 soldiers and sailors during Desert Storm/Desert Shield.
  • Training and Accolades: During his service in the U.S. Navy, Peter L. Klenk traveled back and forth from Philadelphia to New York City twice a week to attend NYU Law School’s Master in Taxation program, recognized as the worlds most foremost Masters in Taxation program. NYU awarded Peter an LL.M., Master in Taxation, which focused on estate planning and estate taxation. He has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Five Star Wealth Manager for providing Estate Planning services, was awarded the Client Distinction Award for providing outstanding service to his clients by Martindale Hubbell and has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer.

Whether you have never had a will or trust or if you would like your existing will or trust reviewed for changes, let Peter Klenk listen and help you. You have nothing to lose, contact Peter Klenk and his team to set up a complimentary initial estate planning consultation. Together, we can create a plan to provide you and your family a more secure tomorrow.

Our services don’t end when you sign your will: As a client, at no further cost to you, Peter Klenk has developed a system where you are delivered summaries of your documents and assets throughout the year. This helps you remember the terms of your will and trust. These documents can be detailed and complex and Peter’s summaries are very helpful in reminding you of their purpose and terms.


Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of developing and implementing a plan that protects both you and your assets during your lifetime, but also a plan that delivers your assets to your heirs in a protected and tax-efficient manner. Tax planning is always important, but it serves you best when combined with an asset protection plan. Saving you tax dollars does little good if those saved dollars end up in the hands of your children’s creditors or lost to your son or daughter-in-law after a divorce from your child.

What is My Estate?

Understanding what makes up your estate is an important question because inheritance taxes or estate taxes are potentially levied on every part of your estate. What is in your estate is sometimes not an easy answer. When people refer to their estate, they are sometimes talking about their taxable estate and other times they are speaking about their probate estate. In general, your estate includes everything that you own in your name, such as your residence, your bank accounts and your retirement account. But it could also include assets that are not in your name, such as your rental property that you might have placed into a Revocable Trust or Living Trust. Other assets, such as your out-of-state vacation home might be in your name, but your home state will not include that property as part of your home state inheritance tax …but the state where your vacation property is located will consider it part of your taxable estate for their purposes. You can see that this can become a bit tricky. If you become Peter Klenk’s client, he will spend time with you to understand your estate, both taxable and probate, because a thorough understanding of your assets is essential to developing a proper estate plan.

Is Estate Planning Difficult?

Understanding what makes up your estate is an important question because inheritance taxes or estate taxes are potentially levied on every part of your estate. What is in your estate is sometimes not an easy answer. When people refer to their estate, they are sometimes talking about their taxable estate and other times they are speaking about their probate estate. In general, your estate includes everything that you own in your name, such as your residence, your bank accounts and your retirement account. But it could also include assets that are not in your name, such as your rental property that you might have placed into a Revocable Trust or Living Trust. Other assets, such as your out-of-state vacation home might be in your name, but your home state will not include that property as part of your home state inheritance tax …but the state where your vacation property is located will consider it part of your taxable estate for their purposes. You can see that this can become a bit tricky. If you become Peter Klenk’s client, he will spend time with you to understand your estate, both taxable and probate, because a thorough understanding of your assets is essential to developing a proper estate plan.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Everyone, including those who are healthy or young should start developing an estate plan. Your estate plan might start out simply and then become more detailed over your lifetime, but it is important to explain how you wish your assets to be distributed at your death. If you die without a will or trust, your assets will be divided under the rules of intestacy. These rules ignore your friends, charities and most of your relatives. Your wishes are unique, and the rules of intestacy are “one size fits all.” Peter Klenk can help you craft a will or trust that will eliminate these problems by directing your money, real estate or other property to the heirs or charities that you wish and in the manner that you see fit.

When Should I Start Estate Planning?

Because some of the best asset protection planning takes time to develop, and because you can never tell when you might be injured, incapacitated in an accident, or die, it is better to start talking to an experienced estate planning lawyer as soon as you can. The last messages that you will pass to your heirs will be through your estate plan, make sure that your wishes are reflected clearly and not though the arbitrary rules created by the government.

How Do I Avoid Probate?

Probate can be avoided by using several techniques. A typical plan might include a combination of Designated Beneficiaries, Irrevocable Trusts, Revocable or Living Trusts and Joint Ownership of Property. Which combination of these techniques best fits your estate plan can only be determined after a thorough analysis. Care must be given to combine avoiding probate with asset protection considerations. Peter Klenk has been helping clients avoid probate for over 20 years, but the most common mistake he sees are when people attempt to avoid probate and then miss opportunities to protect assets from children’s spouses and creditors.

Can Estate Planning Reduce Taxes?

Certainly! A good will and trust attorney, such as Peter Klenk, will also help you address income tax and capital gain tax issues. Why pay taxes you don’t have to?

Can Estate Planning Provide Asset Protection?

Certainly! A good estate plan will provide options to protect you, your spouse and all your heirs from creditors, divorce and bankruptcy. You have many inexpensive asset protection options available. Peter Klenk can analyze your needs and explain these options to you in a way that you will easily understand.

Can Estate Planning Keep My Money in the Family?

Almost every parent is concerned about their children losing their inheritance through divorce, law suits or other legal entanglements. Peter Klenk will work with you to find the best option to help make sure that protective walls are placed around your assets. He will also show you how to make sure that, if your child should die before using all of his or her inheritance, that your money passes to your grandchildren rather than your son or daughter-in-law. Estate plans can provide many protections so your wishes are respected, and Peter Klenk can explain them all to you.

Can Estate Planning Speed up the Probate Process?

A proper estate plan can help make the probate process cheaper and faster.

Can Estate Planning Help Avoid Probate?

If the plan fits your needs, Peter Klenk can also show you how to avoid probate completely. Avoiding probate in some states, like New York and Florida can bring much larger savings than in other states, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A cost/benefit analysis must be made to see if the effort to avoid probate is worth the upfront costs. Sometimes avoiding probate can be more expensive than using the probate process. Let a skilled estate planning attorney like Peter Klenk walk you through the pros and cons of avoiding probate.

Can Estate Planning Help Me Make Better Charitable Gifts?

Yes, if you are planning on making gifts to charity, Peter Klenk can help show you how to maximize your gifts. Simply by choosing which of your assets pass to the charity can mean removing money from the IRS and putting that same money into the hands of the charity and your heirs.

Can Estate Planning Help My Children Plan for the Future?

A good estate plan will create a way for you to help you children and grandchildren deal with the challenges they face. Perhaps an Education Trust or a Generation Skipping Trust would best fit your plan? There are many options, let’s find out what option is the best fit for you.

Can Estate Planning Help Avoid a Will Challenge?

Certainly! A well thought out estate plan is the best way to avoid a costly will contest. Avoiding potential litigation is part of every one of Peter Klenk’s estate plans. Because his firm has both estate planning lawyers and will challenge attorneys, he has the advantage of practicing in both areas, which gives Peter skills and knowledge many other estate planners who are not will contest attorneys lack. If you have a concern about a Will Contest or Will Challenge, you need an estate plan that addresses those concerns.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

You might not know it, but if you die without a will you already have an estate plan. This plan is not your plan, but instead it is the estate plan provided for you by the government. The free plan given to you by the government might not reflect your wishes and it certainly is not crafted to reduce Inheritance Taxes or Estate Taxes. When you die without a will, your estate is called an Intestate Estate and your assets are divided according to the Rules of Intestacy. This plan does not recognize long term unmarried relationships or domestic partners and it does not necessarily give all of your assets to your spouse. Hiring a will and trust attorney will allow you to craft a plan that reflects your wishes and help you avoid or reduce Inheritance and Estate Taxes.

When Should I Have a Will?

The standard comeback for that question is, “before you die” (an old and reliable joke). You should certainly have a will if you have children, a business or have someone that is not your spouse to whom you wish to leave any asset at death.

When Should I have a Trust?

Trusts solve many problems. You can use a trust to avoid estate and inheritance taxes, to avoid probate, to protect a child from a divorce or creditors. Trusts are incredibly flexible tools and can be useful in most estate plans. If you have minor children, then you most certainly need and estate plan that includes a trust to hold and protect your children’s inheritance.

When Should I Update My Will?

You might already have a will or a trust, but tax laws change, as do other aspects of your life. A will and trust need attention and sometimes a tune up every five years. Even those who have wills or trusts in place should consider whether changes might be needed to take into account any of the following life events:

  • Marriage
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Divorce
  • Purchase real property
  • Inheritance or other significant change in financial status

What is a Will Drafting Lawyer?

Any attorney who has passed the bar can draft a will for you, but unless that person has years of experience focused solely on drafting wills, he or she should not be held out as a will drafting attorney. Instead, he or she is a generalist. If you needed heart surgery, would you turn to a generalist or a heart surgeon? The choice is up to you, but why would you not have your will drafted by a will drafting attorney?

Contact us to set up a free consultation meeting or phone conference with one of our experienced estate litigation attorneys.

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