Postmortem Planning Lawyers

Guiding Families Toward Advantageous Outcomes

Typically, when we talk about estate planning, we are talking about the steps people take during their lives to plan for the distribution of their assets after they are gone. Postmortem planning, on the other hand, refers to the steps a person’s family can take after his or her death to achieve the most advantageous results from the estate administration process.

At Spencer Law Firm LLC, based in Lancaster, our attorneys advise clients throughout Pennsylvania on their postmortem planning options, addressing issues such as the following:

  • Election against the will: In Pennsylvania, the spouse of a person who has died is legally entitled to a one-third share of that person’s assets, regardless of the language of the will, in a process called election against the will. If you believe you are entitled to more than your spouse has left you in his or her will, you will want to investigate this option carefully.
  • Disclaimers: If a person who is in line to inherit an asset is willing, it may be possible to achieve estate and gift tax savings by having that person disclaim the inheritance so that the asset can pass to someone else. This must be done within nine months, and the original beneficiary must not take any steps to accept the inheritance.
  • Tax elections: For every estate that is or may be subject to estate tax, there are a number of important elections the executor must make. These include whether to use the alternative valuation date, what the fiscal year should be for the estate, and whether the expenses of administration should be deducted on the estate or income tax return.
  • Retirement distribution planning: Anyone who has been named as the beneficiary of an individual retirement account (IRA) or other retirement plan should carefully consider the most advantageous way to receive those benefits with minimal tax consequences.

To discuss your postmortem planning options with one of our experienced trust and estate lawyers, please contact us at 717-394-1131 or by email to schedule a consultation.