Frequently Asked Questions

There are often questions we receive from prospective and current clients at Marshall, Parker & Weber. Take a look at the continuation of these frequently asked questions below, which we hope will help to ease the Estate Planning process for you and your loved ones.

For more on What to Expect, click here.

Common Questions, Continued

Once your consultation is scheduled, a link to your Zoom meeting is emailed to you. On the day and time of your appointment, simply click on the link to be connected with your attorney and your case manager for your scheduled consultation.
Believe it or not, a lot of your estate plan may be controlled by the nature or ownership of various assets.   For instance, assets held jointly are handled differently than those that only have one (1) name.  Likewise, assets that are qualified (retirement) have very different planning options from those that are non-qualified.  Some assets, like CDs or annuities, come in both flavors, so it is important to know what you have.
Beneficiary designations are an integral part of your estate planning, and you want them to work in concert with your desires.  It is not at all unusual to find that the current designations are outdated, or missing altogether.

The short certificate is what the executor receives after the estate is probated at the Register of Will Office in the county of the decedent’s residence. These certificates are issued in duplicates with an official seal in addition to the Certificate of Grant of Letters. Fun fact: they are called short certificates because many years ago these were issued on a half size sheet of paper, or a “short” certificate.

This answer is most often no; although, if you are inheriting an IRA or annuity then there may be some income tax consequences.

It usually depends upon the amount and type of assets in the estate and whether there are creditors or challenges. An estate can take a year and a half or more to resolve. The inheritance tax return is due within nine (9) months of date of death. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (“DOR”) then has up to six (6) months to review the filed inheritance tax return before issuing a Notice of Appraisement detailing the DOR’s agreement.
One of the executor’s jobs is to secure the estate assets. You should wait until you are appointed the executor.
If you are the joint owner of a bank account with a decedent, those funds become yours immediately upon the death of the decedent (some or all of the date of death value will be subject to inheritance tax). You are under no legal obligation to use those funds for funeral or other estate expenses. You may choose to do so, but it is best to wait and consult with an attorney as you may not be reimbursed by the estate, for example.
It depends upon what the trust says as well as what the will of the decedent says.
Pennsylvania has a statutory scheme that determines where your assets are distributed. For example, if you pass away with a spouse and children from another relationship, your spouse gets half and your children get half. It is better to plan ahead to have your documents in place so that your assets go to the persons and places that you desire, not what the state says.
Yes. If your mother or your mother’s spouse is applying for Medicaid to pay for care in a nursing facility or at home, the state looks back five (5) years from the date of the Medicaid application. Any gift within those five (5) years that exceeds $500.00 cumulatively in a calendar month is a gift that creates a period of ineligibility for Medicaid. There are some exceptions to this rule.
Every family situation is different. If you give money or property to your children now, those assets are at risk of their personal circumstances. Meaning, if your child gets sued, divorced, has substance abuse issues or gambling problems, your assets will be lost and unable to be returned if you need to apply for Medicaid within five (5) years of the gift. Or, if your child dies before you, those assets will go under your child’s will, possibly to your son-in-law or daughter-in-law, which may not be your choice. There are also income tax and tax basis considerations. There are ways to do preplanning for nursing home costs that protect your assets from these risks.
Yes, you can. Remember that each additional transfer to the trust will start a new lookback period.

The terms of the trust will govern. The trustee(s) of the trust will be the person(s) who signs a listing agreement with a realtor and the deed to the purchaser. If the settlor of the trust maintained the ability to live in the house during lifetime, then the settlor would have to agree to the sale. If the house is sold, the proceeds check would be made payable to the trustee(s) of the trust and deposited into a trust account. The trustee(s) can then purchase a new house in the name of the trust. The lookback period for Medicaid reporting purposes does not restart with this sale and new purchase; it is an exchange of a trust asset only.

No, it does not. It depends upon the trust provisions and your intention when the trust was established and what your current financial and health circumstances are now.

Each PCH and ALF has their own financial requirements for potential residents. If you do not have access to your trust because your planning was intended to protect your assets from nursing home costs, then your trustee(s) or heirs may be able to sign a payment agreement.

What Our Clients are Saying

“We are happy with our experience with your law firm. The questionnaire and the information you mailed prepared us well for the initial meeting. We felt like our needs were addressed. Heather answered all questions we had during the process very quickly and thoroughly, including emailing draft documents for review, and diagramming our plan on the whiteboard. Everyone was friendly and professional.”

Dale

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