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Pennsylvania 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.

Our Firm:

If you are Pennsylvanian with estate planning needs, you want a Pennsylvanian 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 Pennsylvania 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 are a Pennsylvanian who has never had a will or trust or if you would like your existing Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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?

If you live in Pennsylvania, understanding what makes up your estate is an important question because the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax is potentially levied on every part of your Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania residence, your bank accounts and your retirement account. But it could also include assets that are not in your name, such as your Pennsylvania rental property that you might have placed into a Revocable Trust or Living Trust. Other assets, such as your Atlantic County, New Jersey shore home might be in your name, but Pennsylvania will not include that property as part of your Pennsylvania Taxable Estate…but New Jersey will consider it part of your New Jersey Taxable Estate. 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?

The most difficult part of estate planning is making the call to your Pennsylvania Estate Planning Attorney. Peter Klenk understands that talking about death and taxes is likely not your favorite pastime. Peter uses his Midwestern, relaxed personality to help you feel as comfortable as possible through the process. Often, much of the process can be done over the phone, and Peter understands that coming to an attorney’s office is not likely your idea of a pleasant afternoon. Peter takes whatever steps are necessary to make the process easy, quick and painless.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Every Pennsylvanian, 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 Pennsylvania will or trust your assets will be divided under the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy. These rules ignore your friends, charities and most of your relatives. Your wishes are unique, and the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy are “one size fits all.” Peter Klenk can help you craft a Pennsylvania will or trust that will eliminate these problems by directing your money, Pennsylvania 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 plans take 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 Pennsylvania 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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

How Do I Avoid Probate With the Pennsylvania Register of Wills?

Probate can be avoided by using several techniques, including a plan that normally includes a combination of Designated Beneficiaries, Irrevocable Trusts, Revocable or Living Trusts and Joint Ownership of Property. Which of these techniques is the best fit for your Pennsylvania Estate can only be determined after a thorough analysis of your estate. Care must be given to combine avoiding probate, with Asset Protection. Peter Klenk has been helping Pennsylvanians avoid probate for over 20 years, but the most common mistake he finds when people attempt to avoid Pennsylvania probate is that they miss opportunities to protect assets from the spouses and creditors of their heirs.

Can Estate Planning Reduce Taxes?

Certainly! Pennsylvanians are subject to the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax and the Federal Estate Tax. A good Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Estate Plan will provide options to protect you, your spouse and all your heirs from creditors, divorce and bankruptcy. Pennsylvanians have many inexpensive options available to them for asset protection. 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 Pennsylvanian is concerned about their heirs 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. Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania estate plan can help make the Pennsylvania 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. Because of Pennsylvania’s tax structure and the low cost of Probate, sometimes avoiding probate can be more expensive than using the Pennsylvania probate process. Let a skilled Pennsylvania Estate Planning Attorney like Peter Klenk walk you through the pros and cons of avoiding Pennsylvania probate.

Can Estate Planning Help Me Make Better Charitable Gifts?

Yes, if you are a Pennsylvanian planning on making gifts to charity, Peter Klenk can help show you how to maximize your gifts. Simply by choosing what of your assets pass to the Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Estate Planning Lawyers and Pennsylvania 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 in Pennsylvania?

You might not know it, but if you die in Pennsylvania 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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The free plan given to you by the Commonwealth might not reflect your wishes and it certainly is not crafted to reduce the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax or the Federal Estate Tax. When you die without a will in Pennsylvania, your estate is called an Intestate Estate and your assets are divided according to the Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania will and trust attorney to craft a plan that reflects your wishes and helps you avoid or reduce the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax and Federal Estate Tax will in most cases be preferable.

When Should I Have a Will?

The standard comeback for that question is, “before you die” (an old and reliable joke). Pennsylvanians should certainly have a will, though, whenever they are have children, a business or have someone that is not their spouse to whom they wish to leave any asset at death. Otherwise, if you should die and you have assets that you care about, you need a will.

When Should I have a Trust?

Trusts solve many problems. A Pennsylvanian 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. 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 Pennsylvania Will Drafting Lawyer?

Any attorney who has passed the Pennsylvania bar can draft a will for you in Pennsylvania, but unless that person has years of experience focused solely on drafting wills in Pennsylvania, he or she should not say they are a Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Will Drafting Attorney?

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Estate Matters
The Klenk Law Blog



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