Estate Planning

Kennett Square Estate Planning Lawyers

Thanks to its role in America’s history, Pennsylvania is one of the most well-known states in the nation and is the 6th most populous. More than 12,760,000 people live within its borders, with that number steadily climbing. It’s hard to ignore the history that Pennsylvania is home to, but at the same time residents need to spend time planning for the future. All aspects of estate planning should be considered as one goes through their life, and preparing for the future is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your loved ones are ready for it.

There’s a lot more to estate planning than just looking through your financial records and putting down a beneficiary on your life insurance, too. It’s a very complex process when handled properly, and most people who are serious about it will want to consult professional attorneys who specialize in estate planning to help them get the best results.

Estate Planning Checklist

  • Create durable powers of attorney
  • Organize your financial records
  • Make sure your life insurance policy is up to date
  • Make a living will
  • Review your pension, IRA< 401(k) and any other retirement funds
  • Arrange for the transfer of business assets
  • Any other personal planning such as care for pets, security codes and more


Your will is one of the first things that will come to mind, and there are plenty of things to think about. Should you place funds in trusts for younger heirs? Do you need to think about planning for pets and their care? Are you leaving behind a partner who may need funds to provide elder care for them indefinitely? Who should be the executor of your will? All of these questions need to be asked when filling out these documents.

Living Wills

Living wills are becoming much more common as people realize that they need to make their wishes known. Health care can be incredibly expensive, and many people don’t want to languish on life support. Living wills let you lay out your wishes very clearly or even give powers of attorney to another person if needed. They’re an often overlooked aspect of estate planning, but they shouldn’t be.


In Pennsylvania, when an individual reaches the age of 18, regardless of any functional limitations or disabilities, he/she has the legal right to make decisions on his or her own behalf. Only a court, after a legal proceeding, may judge an individual to be incapacitated and appoint a guardian to make decisions for him or her. The purpose of this booklet is to describe Pennsylvania’s guardianship procedures to persons with disabilities, their families, service providers, advocates, and friends. While the appointment of a guardian for a person with limited or impaired intellectual functioning may in some cases be unavoidable in order to protect the individual’s wellbeing, guardianship proceedings can be costly legal procedures that may be inconsistent with the habilitative goal of maximizing a person’s independence. Alternatives to guardianship may prove equally effective at a substantially lower emotional and financial cost. Before initiating guardianship proceedings, it is advisable to fully explore the alternatives. The majority of persons with disabilities live in the community with the assistance of their families or a system of support services without the need for guardians.

Retirement Plans

Most people don’t realize it, but retirement plans are a kind of estate planning – especially when you consider that things like a 401(k), IRA, and even business assets can all have a big impact not only on your retirement years but also on what happens after you’re gone. If your 401(k) and pension together allow you to continue saving, or if your business assets are set up in a way that influence your heirs, it’s well worth talking to your administrator to ensure that all of them are considered and managed properly.

After spending years focusing on the present, there comes a point when you have to start thinking about the future – as much as we may not want to. For most, it’s not a task that can be handled on their own. There are tremendous variables to think about and numerous issues to consider ranging from death taxes to probate and beyond. Talking to an expert is the best first step towards making sure you’re ready for the future and that your loved ones are taken care of.


By definition a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trust is created by a settlor, who transfers property to a trustee. The trustee holds that property for the trust’s beneficiaries. Under Pennsylvania law trusts exist mainly in common law jurisdictions and similar systems existed since Roman times.

An owner of property, that places property into trust turns over part of his or her bundle of rights to the trustee, separating the property’s legal ownership and control from its equitable ownership and benefits. This may be done in an effort to offer tax shelter or to control the property and its benefits if the settlor is absent, incapacitated, or dead. Trusts are frequently created in wills, defining how money and property will be handled for children or other beneficiaries.

The trustee is given legal title to the trust property, but is obligated to act for the good of the beneficiaries. The trustee may be compensated and have expenses reimbursed, but otherwise must turn over all profits from the trust properties. Trustees who violate this fiduciary duty are self-dealing. Courts can reverse self dealing actions, order profits returned, and impose other sanctions.

The trustee may be either a individual, a company, or a public body. There may be a single trustee or multiple co-trustees. The trust is governed by the terms under which it was created. In most jurisdictions, this requires a contractual trust agreement or deed.

Testamentary Trusts

A trust that is established once the testator dies, and which is specified in that persons will, is called a testamentary trust. A will may contain one, or multiple, testamentary trusts. These trusts may also address different portions of the estate. If you have questions regarding setting up a testamentary trust you should speak with a Chester County Pennsylvania Testamentary Trust Lawyer.

Testamentary trusts typically specifies four parties:

1. The person who specifies the trust be created. They are referred to as the grantor, or trustor.

2. The person whose responsibility it is to carry out the terms of the will. This person is the trustee.

3. The person who will receive the trust benefits. This person is referred to as the beneficiary.

4. The probate court as they oversee the administering of the trust b the trustee.

Testamentary trusts are legal entities established to address any estate, assets or wealth accumulated during the trustor’s lifetime. It also addresses estate matters associated with the death of the trustor such as a wrongful death lawsuit or proceeds from a life insurance policy. Beneficiaries in testamentary trusts are commonly young children whose parents die unexpectedly.

Contact Our Kennett Square Estate Planning Lawyers

Call the Law Office of Donze and Donze at (610) 444-8018 or send us an email to schedule your first appointment with our Kennett Square Estate Planning Lawyers. When you seek a strong, compassionate and effective legal advocate, you need Donze & Donze.

We proudly serve those with estate planning needs throughout all of Chester County, Pennsylvania including Avondale, Avon Grove, Berwyn, Chester, Chester Spring, Coatesville, Devon, Downington, Elverson, Malvern, New London, Oxford, Paoli, Phoenixville, Union, West Chester, Pennsylvania.