More HH Legal Updates

Houston Harbaugh is a full service law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh and serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. This collection of blogs further highlights the firms capabilities in several practice areas.

Four Estate Planning Resolutions To Kick Off The New Year

One of the easiest action items to consider, but never do, is listing your New Year’s resolutions. One particular important but commonly ignored activity is estate planning. Combine the two and it is understandable that very few people have given much serious thought to estate planning when creating their New Year’s resolutions. Still, as many Estate Planning professionals and attorneys will advise, one of the most common challenges is when individuals and families are forced to make major life-changing decisions or deal with the passing of a loved one, with out-of-date or non-existent estate planning documents. Bearing this in mind, below are four estate planning resolutions for the New Year that everyone should consider:

1.) Have the difficult conversations

To establish a sound estate plan, your family must confront the reality that everyone will die and some may become incapacitated prior to death. The family should resist the temptation to avoid certain legal, financial and emotionally-charged issues. If not enough attention is devoted in advance to communicating an individual’s wishes, there is a good chance those wishes will not be honored. Having the challenging conversations now is a major step towards honoring those wishes later. Such issues typically include who should make legal and financial decisions under a Durable Power of Attorney, who should serve as Executor of the estate, who should make medical decisions for you, what type of care do you want if you are in an end-stage medical condition, and who should receive your property when you die, when and how. Your planning will help survivors better know your intentions and such knowledge may reduce the tension between and among heirs, because your goals and objectives were thoroughly communicated and recorded in advance.

2.) Confirm Your Estate Plan is Current

What kinds of changes have occurred in your life since the last time you updated your Estate Plan? Have you married, divorced and remarried or had a spouse prematurely die. Have once minor children grown into adults? Have any children married or had children of their own. Have you had additional children? Have you retired? Any of these major life events, can have a significant impact on how your estate is managed when you are no longer able to make your own decisions, and distributed when you are gone.

3.) Make the Most Important Decisions in Advance

One of the most important estate planning decisions is what to do while we are still alive. More to the point, there could come a time when sensitive decisions need to be made on end-of-life issues. What measures do you want to be taken to extend your life (or not) when you are not in a position to communicate your wishes? Four important documents come to play:

  1. Durable Power of Attorney – allows your designee, or agent, to take control of your financial and legal matters.
  2. Release of Information – lets healthcare providers share your medical records with your family or other designees.
  3. Healthcare Power of Attorney – allows your designee, or agent, to make your medical decisions.
  4. Living Will – a document which includes specific instructions on what kind of medical care and treatment you want, or do not want, if the medical determination has been made that there is no realistic hope of your significant recovery from your end-stage condition.

4.) Revisit Your Life Insurance

Do you have enough to cover your family’s needs when you’re gone? At a minimum, is there enough to cover your healthcare and funeral costs? Alternately, if your children are grown and your retirement funds are substantial, do you need the current level of insurance coverage? Now would be a good time to review how much insurance you have and consider whether you need more or less. Another reason to have life insurance is to provide your heirs with immediate cash proceeds to satisfy death taxes related to the distribution of your estate.

Any one of the above four resolutions, if adopted and implemented, is a positive step forward. Following through on all four should provide comfort to you and your family by knowing you have tackled and made the difficult decisions. If you are interested in reviewing your estate plan, do not hesitate to contact any of the attorneys in our Estates and Trusts Group.

About Us

Trusted and Cost-Effective Business Law, Business Litigation and Estate Planning Attorneys and Counselors; Building Client Confidence™ with Businesses and Individuals Since 1975

Our firm offers individualized solutions and the highest quality, client-driven and cost effective legal services. Houston Harbaugh, P.C., is a well-known law firm in Pittsburgh, serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Our diverse practice areas include Business Law, Business Litigation, Estate and Succession Planning, Intellectual Property Litigation and Prosecution, Employment and Labor, Employee Benefits, Oil and Gas, Landowner and Property Dispute Counseling and Litigation, Health Care, Environmental, Real Estate, Construction, Complex Tort and Catastrophic Injury Litigation, Insurance coverage and Bad Faith Law, Mediation, Arbitration and Special Master appointment work. As one of the 20 largest law firms in Pittsburgh, our lawyers serve clients on a regional and national basis.

We regularly represent regional, national and international insurance carriers in defense, insurance coverage, unfair trade practices and bad faith matters, and we issue opinions letters and coverage analyses for insurers. We defend designers, manufacturers and sellers in pharmaceutical, products and medical products liability matters and we litigate and try cases involving catastrophic injuries, industrial accidents, toxic torts, professional, engineering and architectural negligence, and agent and broker claims and lawsuits.

Why Houston Harbaugh, P.C.? The Answer Is Clear.

We are accomplished litigators with a strong track record of success in the courtroom and in jury trials. We design and manage business transactions, succession planning, banking and regulatory issues. Our firm has regularly been featured in the U.S. News “Best Lawyers”® rankings of Pittsburgh’s “Best Law Firms.” Our attorneys are also regularly nominated as “Best Lawyers” in this publication. In addition, many of our attorneys are consistently recognized in the annual national Super Lawyers peer review rankings, and our corporate practice has been selected as the winner of The Legal Intelligencer’s Best Law Firm Corporate Practices contest for the Midsize Firm category. Our property and landowner counseling and litigation practice in Oil and Gas and Real Estate is ranked at the top on a regional basis. We help clients to apply for, prosecute, audit, manage and protect intellectual property rights in patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets. We are admitted to the USPTO and have experience in the TTAB. Some of our firm’s shareholders are Adjunct Professors of Law at the Duquesne University School of Law in litigation and intellectual property courses.

Helping You Achieve Your Goals For Over 40 Years

Since our inception as a health care practice in 1975, our attorneys have represented clients in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and throughout the nation. We have grown into a multi-disciplinary practice with the ability to handle complex business transactional and litigation matters. We counsel on estate and succession planning and on trust and guardianship matters. We have a strong employment and labor practice. We represent clients in trade secret counseling and federal Defend Trade Secret Act (DTSA) counseling and litigation. Our DTSALaw® practice group is well versed in this federal body of trade secret law. We counsel, draft, litigate and defend claims involving employment non-compete, restrictive covenants, non-disclosure agreements and breach of contract matters. We service clients in the collection of debts and in bankruptcy creditor matters. Houston Harbaugh litigates in Orphans and Probate courts for matters involving estates and trusts. We also provide mediation and arbitration services to parties involved in litigation and our lawyers are currently serving as court appointed special masters in the Federal Courts.

Contact us and Learn How We Can Help You and Your Business

For more information on how we can help you, call our Pittsburgh office at 412-281-5060. You can also reach us online.

DTSALaw®; Business Litigation; PSMN®; and PSMNLaw® are federally registered trademarks of Houston Harbaugh, P.C. and this website is copyright protected. All rights Reserved to Houston Harbaugh, P.C.. Building Client Confidence™.