Knowledgeable Somerset Attorney Manages Trusts and Estates

Asset protection and legacy planning from a Pennsylvania lawyer you can trust

You’ve worked hard for the wealth you’ve earned, and that wealth must be protected, both for your enjoyment and as a legacy to your heirs. For more than 15 years, Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law has helped clients in the Somerset area secure their future though estate planning. Then, once an estate plan is established, I continue to work with my clients to ensure everything operates smoothly. If you have not spoken to an attorney about your estate plan, the time to do so is now. Your future and the security of your loved ones depend on it.

Helping clients establish trusts for security and flexibility

A trust is a legal entity a grantor establishes to hold and manage assets now and transfer them to beneficiaries in the future. There are many advantages to establishing trusts rather than holding the assets yourself and relying on a will for succession:

  • Protection from liability — If you were found liable for a severe auto accident and the damages exceeded the limits of your insurance policy, you would have to pay the remainder of the judgment from your personal assets: your home, vacation cabin, retirement savings, and so on. But if those assets were in a trust, a plaintiff might not be able to attach them for payment.
  • Protection from taxation — If you are concerned your wealth might trigger estate taxes, you can place enough assets in trusts to reduce the overall size of your estate and get it under the limit. This is more efficient than transferring assets outright, because it does not trigger the gift tax.
  • Avoiding probate — When you rely solely on a will, estate assets are tied up in probate until all claims against the estate are settled. Assets held in trust transfer automatically upon your death, or remain in the trust for your heirs to enjoy.
  • Conditions on gifts — If you want to make a bequest to someone who lacks the capacity to manage money or who depends on government benefits, you can create a spendthrift trust or a special needs trust that pays an allowance to that beneficiary. If you want to use a gift to encourage positive behavior by an heir, you can make a gift contingent upon them accomplishing certain goals, such as finishing college or remaining drug free. However, the conditions you choose cannot violate the law or sound public policy.
  • Providing for children from a previous marriage — If you want to provide for your current spouse but ensure that your children from a previous marriage eventually inherit, you can establish a trust to hold wealth for your spouse’s use and then transfer those assets to your children.

Trusts are very flexible instruments that you can adapt to your goals and circumstances. I work closely with you to identify those goals and put in place appropriate legal safeguards so your intentions are honored.

Reliable guidance for trustees and beneficiaries

Once you establish a trust, a person known as a trustee must manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. As the grantor, you can often manage the trust during your lifetime and name someone to take over duties when you pass. In my practice, I advise grantors and trustees on their fiduciary duties so they can effectively manage the trust in compliance with all applicable laws. I also act as the trustee upon a client’s request. Finally, I represent trustees and beneficiaries in disputes over the management of trusts.

Contact an experienced PA estate planning attorney to establish or manage your trust

Have you spoken to an attorney about the best methods for protecting your loved ones? What about securing your retirement?  Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law is prepared with the answers you need. Call today at 814-483-7075 or contact me online to schedule a consultation at my Somerset office.