Survivorship Periods in Wills and Trusts

It is becoming all too common where wills and trust documents are being prepared by individuals themselves through on-line services or with the help of service providers that declare they “do not provide legal services,” just before they go ahead and provide legal services to consumers.

Individuals are not permitted to provide legal services to consumers, without being licensed by a state bar.  A good rule of thumb with respect to seeking legal advice — if it feels like you are getting legal advice, you probably are, and the person giving it to you should be licensed by the state.

The end result in these situations is the legal document prepared does not effectuate the intended result.

There are many terms of art in the drafting of estate planning documents.  Most recently I have received inquiries regarding the need for survivorship periods in wills and trusts.  A survivorship period is a standard feature that states a named beneficiary in a document cannot inherit unless they live for a specified amount of time after the will or trust maker dies.  This period can be used to avoid estate taxes for successive estates and to ensure property passed to beneficiaries ends up where it was intended.  It is extremely important for estate planning purposes that those who are seeking a will or trust recognize the importance and impact of terms of art such as survivorship periods.

Other provisions to consider are common disaster clauses, tax apportionment clauses, as well as executor/guardian and trustee appointment provisions.  To discuss any of these concepts or determine which may be right for your estate plan, contact Dimond Law Office.

Pennsylvania Realty Transfer Tax

The Realty Transfer Tax is a joint and several tax all parties to a transaction are responsible to pay on a transfer of real estate in Pennsylvania.  The tax rate is one percent for the state and one percent for the local portion (however, some of the larger localities charge a higher rate).  Traditionally, the payment is split with one party paying the state portion and one the local.  The parties to the real estate transaction are free to negotiate who will pay what portion, but both remain fully responsible for the payment of the tax due.

There are many excluded real estate transactions under state law.  This means that all parties to the transaction have been defined as excluded by statute and, therefore, there is no Realty Transfer Tax owed as a result of the transaction.

To determine if your proposed real estate transaction is excluded from the Pennsylvania Realty Transfer Tax, contact Dimond Law Office.