Klenk Law

The Importance of Periodically Reviewing Your Pennsylvania Estate Plan

Posted on Mon Jan 12, 2015, on Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: The Importance of Periodically Reviewing Your Pennsylvania Estate Plan

Most Recently Updated July 8, 2018

“I created my estate plan about ten years ago. Do I need to update it?”

What-is-a-Complex-Trust

The Importance of Periodically Reviewing Your Pennsylvania Estate Plan

The Importance of Periodically Reviewing Your Pennsylvania Estate Plan

Periodically reviewing your Pennsylvania estate plan is critical. Significant life events including marriages, children and moving can dramatically affect how your assets are distributed. Other issues such as changes in state and federal laws can also affect your intended estate plan. In addition to your plan failing, old and unrevised documents can delay probate, and in some cases end up in litigation. These are some of the many reasons reasons to periodically review your estate plan to ensure it still reflects your intentions.

As an example, let’s look at a case where a quick and simple Will revision could have saved time, money and easily carried out the deceased’s wishes.

The Jacquinto Estate case comes from the Orphans’ Court of Philadelphia County. First, note the case’s chronology. The testator died in 1989 and the case wasn’t adjudicated until 2006. 17 years!

In Jacquinto, the deceased died testate – but with an outdated and unrevised Will. One provision of the Will specifically bequeathed, ‘to each of my eleven grandchildren, the sum of $10,000 in eleven separate trusts.’ At the time the Will was written, Mr. J had eleven grandchildren. At his death, he had 13 grandchildren with 1 more on the way. Would the grandchildren born after the Will was drafted be entitled to receive the same amount as their cousins?

Court’s Reasoning

The quick answer is no. The longer answer took 17 years to litigate, countless dollars and potentially damaged family relationships. In addressing this question, the court first looked to the specific language used in the Will to determine Mr. J’s intent. Since the language was determined to be ambiguous, although arguably not, the court applied precedential canons of Will construction in an attempt to infer Mr. J’s intent.

In this instance, it was clear the Mr. J wished to create a class gift to all of his grandchildren.Evidenced by his inclusion of all living grandchild in the original Will. However, the Will did not account for the possibility of additional grandchildren. And he never revised his will after they were born. One of the canons of Will construction applied by the court favors an interpretation that equally distributes property among those standing in the same relation to the testator. Further, discrimination will not be inferred as the testator’s intent.

Court’s Ruling

The Orphans’ Court of Philadelphia County applied these canons in favor of the two living grandchildren not included in the Will. The judge ruled a $10,000 trust account should be created in their name. However, the unborn grandchild was not so fortunate. The court ruled against creating a trust in his name since he was not born when Mr. J passed.

Explanation

From the facts, the testator wanted all of his grandchildren to share equally including any future grandchildren after his death. It was not his intent to only allow living grandchildren to inherit from him. This was a simple request. However, by failing to update his documents he not only disinherited one grandchild but also cost his estate significant resources.

More Planning Questions?

Periodically reviewing your documents is only a piece of the Estate Planning process. By all means, if you want to learn more, please read my more detailed article, Estate Planning Everything You Need to Know.

In Conclusion: The Importance of Periodically Reviewing Your Pennsylvania Estate Plan

I hope that this article was helpful in explaining the importance of reviewing documents. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website so you can learn more. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!

Let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.  By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!

Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do!

 

Tags:

Estate Planning, Estate Planning Attorney, Estate Planning Lawyer, Irrevocable Trust, Living Will, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Power of Attorney, Revocable Trust, Trusts, Wills

What Our clients are saying

Stars

Peter provided outstanding advice and preparation of a will and trusts.

Stars

Peter was excellent. He explained everything very clearly and is super friendly. My wife and I originally tried using a lawyer through group legal coverage, but unfortunately the old adage - "you get what you pay for" - applied to the other lawyer, and we decided to go with a real professional.

Stars

When it came down to picking the right attorney to handle my affairs, I knew right away it was this firm. From speaking to their secretary to speaking to Peter I knew I was making the right decision. After only a few mins Peter knew right away what I was looking for and handled all my questions professionally and even gave me great feedback that put my mind at ease. All that without even giving a single penny! So of course I hired him! So far so good...

Stars

AWESOME LAWYER! Peter Klenk is an exceptional attorney and a very nice person! Today I spoke with Peter about estate planning and was impressed with by his professionalism, cordiality, and attention to detail. I highly recommend Klenk Law for probates, wills, trusts, and other issues germane to estate planning!

Stars

Great friendly staff

Stars

Tremendous firm with bright, kind and tenacious people. Great representation for our family.

Stars

I'm totally satisfied with Klenk Law. Peter has a great legal mind with the personality of the guy next door.

Stars

Everything about my experience was a 10+! Peter and his staff made what I thought would be a difficult process easy and understandable. Every detail was handled correctly. No other firm could possibly do better than Klenk Law!

Stars

Peter and his staff are very responsive and always willing to help my clients and in a cost efficient manner.

Stars

Like another reviewer, I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link, for a question regarding PA inheritance taxes. The question was quite technical and difficult to explain, and the answer was nowhere to be found on the web. Peter grasped precisely what I was asking, and provided a clear, helpful response (with a touch of humor) the very next day.

Stars

Answered my question quickly and referred me to a colleague that could handle my problem

Stars

Mr. Klenk, quickly understood the circumstances presented and provided clear and concise advice. This advice provided me with the information I required to progress the case to my advantage.

Stars

Peter is excellent. I had a very complicated situation with my parents' estate planning and potential Medicaid needs. Peter was very knowledgeable in estate planning matters, able to define the best solution for the situation. Additionally, he was congenial and able to communicate effectively to my senior citizen parents the benefits of estate planning. He earned my trust, and more importantly, my parents' trust in a 45 mins consultation period. Highly recommend Peter. He is very easy to work with.

Stars

Peter recently gave a presentation about Wills & Trusts at my employer, and it was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information to the group. People were very engaged and asked several questions, all of which Peter thoroughly answered. Personally, my husband and I have selected Peter to help us with our estate planning, and he has been very helpful in providing us with all of the information we need to provide a secure future for our family. Thank you, Peter!

Stars

Peter provided outstanding advice and preparation of a will and trusts.

Stars

Peter explained things in a way that was easy to understand. Everything was done in the time frame he said it. Could not have been better!

Stars

You & your staff are the best thank you for everything.

Stars

Peter and his staff handled all of our needs in a very professional and timely matter.

Stars

Peter Klenk made a complex subject understandable and allowed us to move forward with our estate planning. He was patient with our questions and creative in the solutions he proposed.

Stars

Peter explained a complex subject very clearly, helped us to decide the best approach to managing our estate and then made it very easy for us to execute the required documents. He will be a valuable resource for years to come and clearly has a great understanding of estate law that will lead to innovative solutions for us. I would unhesitatingly recommend him for estate planning.

Stars

Fantastic customer service. Very personable and most importantly they provide great explanations of what is required based on your individual needs. Highly recommend Klenk Law for anyone that needs to create a will and estate documents.

Stars

Always professional and very responsive. Everyone on the staff that I have worked with. I look forward to continuing our relationship.

Stars

Surprisingly easy

Stars

Affable...yet surprisingly cerebral estate planning atty. High marks all the way around.

Stars

Peter and his associates made things easy for us.

Let us put our expertise to work for you.

Free consultation within 24 hours.