• John B Whalen Jr Esq •

Category: Philadelphia Pa Estates Planning (Page 1 of 3)

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide

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Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – Intro

The best gift you can give your loved ones is to have your Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning complete. Unfortunately, to a great extent, misinformation about critical terms such as Pa Inheritance Tax, Federal Estate Tax, Pa Probate, avoiding probate, simple will, and Pa Living Trust, tends to lead to misunderstandings of Pa Estate Planning. These misunderstandings, in turn, tend to lead to mistakes in Pa Estate Planning. These mistakes, again, in turn, tend to lead to unintended results after one’s death. In an effort to eliminate such misinformation, misunderstandings, and mistakes, this article will hopefully serve as a review – in very simple terms – of the basic, core issues of estate planning and its basic documents.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Summary

There are four primary Pa Estate Planning documents that tend to form the foundation of most good estate plans. These documents are a

  • Pa Power of Attorney,
  • Pa Advance Directive for Health Care (a Pa Living Will),
  • Pa Last Will, and (at, times)
  • Pa Trust

Although each document has a different purpose, each document designates someone who is responsible for carrying out the wishes set forth in the document.

I refer to these people – those in charge – as “The Bosses.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Bosses

Each document has a boss who is in charge of carrying out the terms of that particular document. Under Pennsylvania law, the proper terms for the bosses are:

  • Pa Agent (under a Pa Power of Attorney),
  • Pa Surrogate (under a Pa Living Will),
  • Pa Executor (under a Pa Last Will),
  • Pa Trustee (under a Pa Trust).

Although a technical knowledge of these terms can be useful, it is not the point of this article. The focus is to illustrate that an Agent, a Surrogate, an Executor, and a Trustee are just the bosses of that respective document.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Powers

Each boss has powers, and these powers can be summarized very simply.

  • Pa Agent (under a Power of Attorney) can help manage all of your affairs
  • Pa Surrogate (under a Pa Living Will) can ensure your end of life decisions.
  • Pa Executor (under a Pa Last Will) can administer your Pa Estate
  • Pa Trustee (under a Pa Trust) can monitor and manage your Pa Trust.

Again, and although a technical knowledge of the parameters of these various powers can be useful, it is not the point of this article. The focus is to illustrate that a Pa Agent, a Pa Surrogate, a Pa Executor, and a Pa Trustee can generally possess broad powers to act for you under that respective document.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Traits

Although all four of the documents require bosses that possess certain traits or characteristics in order for that document to be as effective as possible, I have experienced that two traits should be inherent in all of the bosses of all four of the documents

  • Ability
  • Willingness.

Although the bosses of each of the documents should also possess additional traits for that particular document to be effective (all of which shall be addressed later), unless your boss is able and willing to act on your behalf, your desires and wishes may not be followed.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Documents

There are four primary documents that tend to form the foundation of most good estate plans. A succinct review of each, and the misunderstandings of each, follows.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – Powers of Attorney

A Pa Power of Attorney can grant your boss (Pa Agent) the ability to control all of your affairs. It is a very powerful document; it can permit your Pa Agent the broadest of powers to do anything which you could have done (i.e., give all your money away), but yet, inherent in these broad powers, is the reality that your Pa Agent may actually do anything which you could have done (i.e., give all your money away).

A Pa Power of Attorney can be durable (effective after you are incapacitated), current (effective now), or springing (effective upon the happening of a future event (i.e., the decision by your treating physician that you can no longer act for yourself).

A common misconception is that a Pa Power of Attorney eliminates your ability to act for yourself. Quite to the contrary, and until you are deemed incapacitated, a Pa Power of Attorney should properly be viewed as a shared authority – you still retain all of the powers and decision making ability that you possessed before you executed the Pa Power of Attorney.

With respect to additional traits that your boss should possess (in addition to being able and willing), I have found that your boss (Agent) should also be:

  • Levelheaded
  • Familiar with your affairs.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – Living Wills

A Pa Advance Directive for Health Care can grant your boss (Pa Surrogate) the ability to execute your end of life decisions and decide whether life-sustaining measures should be used. The common misconception of this document is when it will become operative.

There are two triggers that must occur before your Surrogate is even given the option of acting: the first is that you must be unable to communicate your own decisions, and the second is that you must have been diagnosed with a terminal condition or as being permanently unconscious.With respect to additional traits that your boss should possess (in addition to being able and willing), I have found that your boss (Surrogate) should also be:

  • Stoic
  • Strong.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – Last Wills

A Pa Last Will can grant your boss (Pa Executor) the ability to administer your Estate.

The most common misconception that surrounds a Pa Will is the process called Pa Probate and the seemingly universal theme that it should be avoided at all costs.

Again, and virtually to the contrary, the word probate is merely the Latin infinitive verb that means to prove, and, although some states do have onerous probate procedures (where the avoidance of probate may be a prudent strategy), Pennsylvania is not one of those states. In fact, probating a Will in Pennsylvania is very simple.

Also very important is the fact that a Will only disposes of the assets (1) that you own in your individual name alone and (2) that possess no beneficiary designations (i.e., no tags). Consequently, items owned jointly with another are controlled by property law (not Will law) and will pass to the joint owner(s) at your death, and items that have beneficiary designations will be controlled by contract law (not Will law) and pass to the designated beneficiaries at your death. With respect to additional traits that your boss should possess (in addition to being able and willing), I have found that your boss (Executor) should also be:

  • Honest
  • Diplomatic. 

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – Trusts

A Pa Trust can grant your boss (Pa Trustee) the ability to monitor and manage your Pa Trust. The types of Trusts can be viewed simply as being either (1) revocable (which are created during your life and which become irrevocable upon your death), (2) irrevocable (which are created during your life and become irrevocable upon their creation), and (3) and testamentary (which are created under your Will and which become irrevocable upon your death

Vital is the fact that they can be extremely useful for individuals with Special Needs (i.e., autism, addictions, minors, etc). With respect to additional traits that your boss should possess (in addition to being able and willing), I have found that your boss (Trustee) should also be

  • Attentive
  • Decisive.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Taxes

Another area of misconception in the Pa Estate Planning area involve the taxes that are imposed on the value of your assets on the date of your death.

Basically, two death taxes can be imposed on Pennsylvania residents: the

  • Federal Estate Tax, and
  • Pa Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax.

Unlike the income tax, which is very descriptive in its title – as it is imposed upon your income – the phrases “Federal Estate Tax” and “Pa Inheritance Tax” are misnomers in that may tend to belie the actual fact that these are taxes imposed by virtue of your death.

Federal Estate Tax

The Federal Estate Tax begins at a wealth threshold.

If you possess less than the wealth threshold at your death, the federal estate tax will not be applicable. If it is applicable, the tax is imposed on a percentage scale according to the amount of wealth (i.e., potentially 47% of the value of your assets above the current $1,500,000. 00 wealth threshold). This threshold has been, is, and is scheduled to continue to increase. In 2005, the threshold is $1,500,000. 00; in 2006, 2007, and 2008, the threshold is $2,000,000. 00; in 2009, the threshold is $3,500,000.00; in 2010, the Federal Estate Tax is scheduled to be eliminated; but in 2011, the Federal Estate Tax is scheduled to return with a threshold of $1,000,000.00.

PA Inheritance Tax

The Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax has no wealth threshold and starts immediately. It is imposed on a percentage based on the relationship of the beneficiary

  1. 00.00% = Spouses and Charities are taxed at a 00.00% tax rate, 
  2. 04.50% = Lineal descendants are taxed at a 4.50%,
  3. 12.00% = Siblings brothers and sisters
  4. 15.00% = Collaterals (everyone else).

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Guide – The Pointers

In conclusion, there are four basic pointers for all who are faced with estate planning.

  1. Title your assets with the utmost care (i.e., joint ownership, beneficiary designations, etc.)
  2. With respect to transferring your assets (i.e., re-titling, gifting, etc) during your lifetime, get advice before you do so (before the bombs go off).
  3. Always have your estate planning documents up-to-date because laws, taxes, and people change.
  4. Most importantly – pick your bosses very carefully.

Philadelphia Pa Probate Attorneys Guide

The Philadelphia Pa Probate Attorneys Guide is the core of this website. It consists of the best, most important articles on this website. Their focus is to provide the best and most complete information on a particular topic, rather than to sell products.

John B. Whalen, Jr., JD., LL.M., is an AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0 and Avvo Rated 10.0 Superb (obtaining over 95 client reviews and peer endorsements) premier and prestigious Attorney and Counselor at Law.

Mr. Whalen is featured on AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0Avvo Rated 10.0 SuperbAvvoJustiaLawyersMartindaleNoloQuora, and Thumbtack.

John is located at 696 Pont Reading Road Ardmore Pa 19003. He serves all surrounding counties, on all 7 days, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Mr. Whalen provides free initial consults all seven days, provides home visits, and provides flat fee structures. He can be reached by email at jw60297@me.com, and by telephone at 1-484-417-6244.

John has amassed over 60 prestigious and premier professional awards and over 5000 client reviews and endorsements. Mr. Whalen has achieved the AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent award from Martindale, AV Peer Judicial Preeminent award, the Avvo Rated Superb 10.00 award, the Avvo Rated Top Lawyer award, the Clients’ Choice Award, and the Top One Percent (1%) award.

He is the recipient of the Legum Magister Post-Doctorate Degree (LL.M.) in Taxation (from the Villanova University School of Law), a recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in Wills, Trusts, and Estates (from the Widener University School of Law), and a recipient of the ABA-BNA Law Award for Academic Excellence (from the Widener University School of Law).

When Should I Update My Philadelphia Pa Last Will

When-Should-I-Update-My-Philadelphia-Pa-Last-Will-Lawyers-Attorneys

When Should I Update My Philadelphia Pa Last Will? – Bio

John B. Whalen Jr Esq
Philadelphia Pa Probate Lawyers
696 Pont Reading Road, Philadelphia, PA 19087

When Should I Update My Philadelphia Pa Last Will? – Video

Philadelphia Pa Probate Lawyers Practice Areas

John provides a full range of services for Pa Wills: drafting, review, amendment, revocation, execution and probate. He provides reliable guidance for testators and executors.

His experience in the probate court, resolving issues related to the validity of wills, enables him to provide practical advice for testators from all walks of life. Similarly, his work in the formation of wills gives us keen insight into how executors should interpret various aspects of a will that may initially seem unclear.

Whether you are a testator formulating an estate plan or an executor implementing a decedent’s wishes, John B. Whalen, Jr. Esq. can simplify many complex aspects of the tasks before you.

He offers pertinent and personal legal advice to obtain the results you need in a timely manner with the least stress possible. Once executed, your will remains your final statement of your intentions until you amend or revoke it.

He recommends reviewing your will every three to five years and updating it to reflect your current wishes.

Philadelphia Pa Beneficiary Lawyers

There are many factors that can affect the distribution of estate assets. In some cases, there may be a Pa Will that identifies you as a beneficiary; in other cases, there may not be a will at all. In still other cases, there may be a dispute involving the administration of the estate. For example, a beneficiary may disagree with how the executor or personal representative is distributing assets.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Administration Lawyers

Pa Estate Administration is the process of settling a decedent’s affairs. When a loved one passes away, it can be an emotional time. In addition to grieving their passing, those that survive them must tie up all the legal and financial loose ends related to their life and estate. This includes addressing their Pa Last Will and following its instructions.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Lawyers

Pa Estate law comprises many areas of law. However, all of these areas of law focus on taking care of one’s person and property. Estate law is all of the laws that impact how a person makes decisions and issues directives about their personal affairs. A Pa Estate is anything that makes up a person’s net worth. Very simply, an estate is what a person has in their own name alone.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Litigation Lawyers

Most estates, especially when there is a proper will in place, are easily settled. Yet there are times when other factors complicate the issue, creating a situation that requires more careful consideration. For example, a family business, an estate that is in bankruptcy or an estate that holds significant amounts of real estate may become complicated quite quickly. This is where estate litigation comes into play.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Lawyers

An attorney who specializes in Pa Estate Planning can help you create a complete plan (including Pa Last Wills, Pa Powers of Attorney, and Pa Living Wills, etc.) to protect your spouse and children if you become unable to manage your financial affairs. Pa Estate Planning allows you to make decisions now so your wishes can be carried out if you die or become incapacitated.

Philadelphia Pa Powers of Attorney Lawyers

When you execute a legal document called a power of attorney, you are authorizing another individual to make certain decisions on your behalf. The person who signs the document is called the principal and the person who is authorized to make decisions is known as the agent or attorney-in-fact.

A limited power of attorney restricts the permissible activities of the agent to a specific period of time. For instance, if you are in the military and are being deployed overseas for six months, you can set up a limited power of attorney with an individual you trust. That person may be granted access to your bank account so they can pay your mortgage or other monthly expenses while you are away from home.

A durable power of attorney, unlike other forms of this type of legal document, does not expire if the principal becomes incapacitated. The agent may continue to make financial and medical decisions as indicated in the original document.

Philadelphia Pa Living Wills Lawyers

Living wills are also referred to as an advance directive or a health care directive. It is a legal document that communicates your desire in the treatment of serious medical problems in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. They do not go into effect unless you are incapacitated and unable to express yourself. Having a living will can relieve your close relatives from the burden of having to make the decision about whether to remove you from life support.

Philadelphia Pa Trusts Lawyers

Trusts are legal documents that allow you to control how your assets will be allocated or managed. You are considered the grantor and the person that manages and distributes assets in the trust is known as the trustee. Individuals who receive money or other assets are the beneficiaries.

Property placed in a trust, unlike wills, is not subject to probate. You can also create a revocable trust which can be canceled or revoked at any time while you are alive. Trusts can be set up for a child’s education or to reduce estate taxes.

Philadelphia Pa Last Wills Lawyers

A Will is an important document to execute in order to avoid disputes about how your assets will be divided when you die. The executor who administers the distribution of assets from your estate will allocate your possessions as you specified. You should periodically review your Will to make sure it is still relevant and accurate. Life changing events, such as the birth of a child or a marriage, may require amendments to the original document.

Philadelphia Pa Last Wills Contest Lawyers

If you, as a beneficiary, suspect that a will does not reflect the wishes of the deceased, you have a right to challenge the proceedings in court. Similarly, if you believe an executor, trustee or estate administrator is mismanaging estate assets, you have standing to raise that issue.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Litigation Lawyers

Most estates, especially when there is a proper will in place, are easily settled. Yet there are times when other factors complicate the issue, creating a situation that requires more careful consideration. For example, a family business, an estate that is in bankruptcy or an estate that holds significant amounts of real estate may become complicated quite quickly. This is where estate litigation comes into play.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Taxation Lawyers

When an individual acts in a fiduciary capacity such as a Pa Executor of a Pa Last Will or a Pa Trustee of the financial assets of another person or entity, they have the responsibility of keeping accurate financial records. Those records should show how money was spent, invested or distributed while under the fiduciary’s care and control. Proper accounting can bring to light the mismanagement or bad investment of funds should an issue arise with an interested party.

Philadelphia Pa Guardianships Lawyers

The Pa Guardianship process can be filled with emotions. Realizing that a loved one is no longer capable of caring for his or her self can be difficult to accept. For the past twenty-five (25) years, Attorney Whalen has built a reputation for providing compassionate legal care for his clients, putting their needs and interests first while navigating emotionally trying circumstances.

Philadelphia Pa Probate Attorneys Guide

The Philadelphia Pa Probate Attorneys Guide is the core of this website. It consists of the best, most important articles on this website. Their focus is to provide the best and most complete information on a particular topic, rather than to sell products.


John B. Whalen, Jr., JD., LL.M., is an AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0 and Avvo Rated 10.0 Superb (obtaining over 95 client reviews and peer endorsements) premier and prestigious Attorney and Counselor at Law. He is located at 696 Pont Reading Road Ardmore Pa 19003. He serves all surrounding counties, on all 7 days, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on evenings, weekends, and holidays. He provides free initial consults all seven days, provides home visits, and provides flat fee structures. He can be reached by email at jw60297@me.com, and by telephone at 1-484-417-6244. He has amassed over 60 prestigious and premier professional awards and over 5000 client reviews and endorsements.

What Is A Philadelphia Pa Last Will

What-Is-A-Philadelphia-Pa-Last-Will

What Is A Philadelphia Pa Last Will? – Bio

John B. Whalen Jr Esq
Philadelphia Pa Probate Lawyers
696 Pont Reading Road, Philadelphia, PA 19087

What Is A Philadelphia Pa Last Will? – Video

Philadelphia Pa Probate Lawyers Practice Areas

John provides a full range of services for Pa Wills: drafting, review, amendment, revocation, execution and probate. He provides reliable guidance for testators and executors.

His experience in the probate court, resolving issues related to the validity of wills, enables him to provide practical advice for testators from all walks of life. Similarly, his work in the formation of wills gives us keen insight into how executors should interpret various aspects of a will that may initially seem unclear.

Whether you are a testator formulating an estate plan or an executor implementing a decedent’s wishes, John B. Whalen, Jr. Esq. can simplify many complex aspects of the tasks before you.

He offers pertinent and personal legal advice to obtain the results you need in a timely manner with the least stress possible. Once executed, your will remains your final statement of your intentions until you amend or revoke it.

He recommends reviewing your will every three to five years and updating it to reflect your current wishes.

Philadelphia Pa Beneficiary Lawyers

There are many factors that can affect the distribution of estate assets. In some cases, there may be a Pa Will that identifies you as a beneficiary; in other cases, there may not be a will at all. In still other cases, there may be a dispute involving the administration of the estate. For example, a beneficiary may disagree with how the executor or personal representative is distributing assets.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Administration Lawyers

Pa Estate Administration is the process of settling a decedent’s affairs. When a loved one passes away, it can be an emotional time. In addition to grieving their passing, those that survive them must tie up all the legal and financial loose ends related to their life and estate. This includes addressing their Pa Last Will and following its instructions.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Lawyers

Pa Estate law comprises many areas of law. However, all of these areas of law focus on taking care of one’s person and property. Estate law is all of the laws that impact how a person makes decisions and issues directives about their personal affairs. A Pa Estate is anything that makes up a person’s net worth. Very simply, an estate is what a person has in their own name alone.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Litigation Lawyers

Most estates, especially when there is a proper will in place, are easily settled. Yet there are times when other factors complicate the issue, creating a situation that requires more careful consideration. For example, a family business, an estate that is in bankruptcy or an estate that holds significant amounts of real estate may become complicated quite quickly. This is where estate litigation comes into play.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Planning Lawyers

An attorney who specializes in Pa Estate Planning can help you create a complete plan (including Pa Last Wills, Pa Powers of Attorney, and Pa Living Wills, etc.) to protect your spouse and children if you become unable to manage your financial affairs. Pa Estate Planning allows you to make decisions now so your wishes can be carried out if you die or become incapacitated.

Philadelphia Pa Powers of Attorney Lawyers

When you execute a legal document called a power of attorney, you are authorizing another individual to make certain decisions on your behalf. The person who signs the document is called the principal and the person who is authorized to make decisions is known as the agent or attorney-in-fact.

A limited power of attorney restricts the permissible activities of the agent to a specific period of time. For instance, if you are in the military and are being deployed overseas for six months, you can set up a limited power of attorney with an individual you trust. That person may be granted access to your bank account so they can pay your mortgage or other monthly expenses while you are away from home.

A durable power of attorney, unlike other forms of this type of legal document, does not expire if the principal becomes incapacitated. The agent may continue to make financial and medical decisions as indicated in the original document.

Philadelphia Pa Living Wills Lawyers

Living wills are also referred to as an advance directive or a health care directive. It is a legal document that communicates your desire in the treatment of serious medical problems in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. They do not go into effect unless you are incapacitated and unable to express yourself. Having a living will can relieve your close relatives from the burden of having to make the decision about whether to remove you from life support.

Philadelphia Pa Trusts Lawyers

Trusts are legal documents that allow you to control how your assets will be allocated or managed. You are considered the grantor and the person that manages and distributes assets in the trust is known as the trustee. Individuals who receive money or other assets are the beneficiaries.

Property placed in a trust, unlike wills, is not subject to probate. You can also create a revocable trust which can be canceled or revoked at any time while you are alive. Trusts can be set up for a child’s education or to reduce estate taxes.

Philadelphia Pa Last Wills Lawyers

A Will is an important document to execute in order to avoid disputes about how your assets will be divided when you die. The executor who administers the distribution of assets from your estate will allocate your possessions as you specified. You should periodically review your Will to make sure it is still relevant and accurate. Life changing events, such as the birth of a child or a marriage, may require amendments to the original document.

Philadelphia Pa Last Wills Contest Lawyers

If you, as a beneficiary, suspect that a will does not reflect the wishes of the deceased, you have a right to challenge the proceedings in court. Similarly, if you believe an executor, trustee or estate administrator is mismanaging estate assets, you have standing to raise that issue.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Litigation Lawyers

Most estates, especially when there is a proper will in place, are easily settled. Yet there are times when other factors complicate the issue, creating a situation that requires more careful consideration. For example, a family business, an estate that is in bankruptcy or an estate that holds significant amounts of real estate may become complicated quite quickly. This is where estate litigation comes into play.

Philadelphia Pa Estate Taxation Lawyers

When an individual acts in a fiduciary capacity such as a Pa Executor of a Pa Last Will or a Pa Trustee of the financial assets of another person or entity, they have the responsibility of keeping accurate financial records. Those records should show how money was spent, invested or distributed while under the fiduciary’s care and control. Proper accounting can bring to light the mismanagement or bad investment of funds should an issue arise with an interested party.

Philadelphia Pa Guardianships Lawyers

The Pa Guardianship process can be filled with emotions. Realizing that a loved one is no longer capable of caring for his or her self can be difficult to accept. For the past twenty-five (25) years, Attorney Whalen has built a reputation for providing compassionate legal care for his clients, putting their needs and interests first while navigating emotionally trying circumstances.

Philadelphia Pa Probate Lawyers Guide

The Philadelphia Pa Probate Lawyers Guide, itself, is a very simple process. However, it is merely the beginning of the Pa Estate Administration (also known as the Pa Estate Settlement) process, which involves settling a decedent’s affairs, and can (and does) involve many, many other steps, depending on many, many other things.


John B. Whalen, Jr., JD., LL.M., is an AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0 and Avvo Rated 10.0 Superb (obtaining over 95 client reviews and peer endorsements) premier and prestigious Attorney and Counselor at Law. He is located at 696 Pont Reading Road Ardmore Pa 19003. He serves all surrounding counties, on all 7 days, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on evenings, weekends, and holidays. He provides free initial consults all seven days, provides home visits, and provides flat fee structures. He can be reached by email at jw60297@me.com, and by telephone at 1-484-417-6244. He has amassed over 60 prestigious and premier professional awards and over 5000 client reviews and endorsements.

Philadelphia Pa USA PATRIOT Act Privacy Rules

wayne-pa-usa-patriot-act-privacy-rules

Philadelphia Pa USA PATRIOT Act Privacy Rules

Less than two months after September 11th, President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act.

The USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (the “U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T.” Act), announced a wide range of new tools to strengthen the U.S. economic system from, in addition to many other things, money laundering, terrorist financing, identity theft, and fraud.

Among the tools of the USA PATRIOT Act was Section 326, which virtually overhauled the account-opening process at financial institutions.

Section 326 required that the Treasury Department establish minimum standards with which financial institutions must strictly comply in order to open new accounts.

This note will outline a brief history and a few aspects of Section 326 with which we are all now faced.

Philadelphia Pa USA PATRIOT Act Privacy Rules – The History

On July 23, 2002, the Treasury Department issued the Proposed Rules for Section 326, which received overwhelming criticism from all interests.  The criticism ranged from one side advocating for a rule containing an entirely risk-based approach without any minimum identification and verification requirements, to the opposing side desiring a rule with more specific requirements [because a completely] risk-based approach would leave too much room for interpretation.

The overwhelming sentiment from all sides, however, was that the Treasury Department had underestimated the compliance burden that would be imposed on financial institutions.

On April 30, 2003, the Treasury Department adopted the Joint Final Rule for Section 326, which attempted to both increase the verification effectiveness for new accounts and decrease the needless drain on financial institutions.  Changes from the Proposed Rules to the Joint Final Rule included a narrowed definition of customer (i.e., by excluding signatories on accounts) and redefined record-keeping requirements (i.e., by requiring only notations from, not copies of, identity-verifying documents such as driver’s licenses).  Most notably, the Joint Final Rule implemented the Customer Identity Program (C.I.P.) rules.

On October 1, 2003, the C.I.P. rules became mandatory, which dictated that [a]ll financial institutions, regardless of size, have a CIP that contains customer identification and verification procedures.

Philadelphia Pa USA PATRIOT Act Privacy Rules – The Purpose

The purpose of a C.I.P. is to ensure that financial institutions know the true identity of those opening accounts.  Each institution’s C.I.P should be risk-based, and should be an integrated part of its Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering programs.

In establishing a C.I.P., Section 326 dictates minimum, not maximum, standards.  Therefore, the measures taken by each financial institution will vary based on many factors.

With respect to the account, aspects will include the account type, the method by which it is opened (i.e., in person or electronically), and the identity verification information provided by the customer.

With respect to the institution, considerations will include its size, location, and customer base.

In activating a C.I.P., Section 326 dictates that it will occur anytime a new customer opens a new account.  However, it may also occur in varying degrees with existing customers and existing accounts.  The essence of the meaning of an account lies in ongoing relationships, not infrequent interactions.  It is defined as a formal relationship to provide or engage in services, dealings or other financial transactions.  The gist of the meaning of customer speaks to both individuals and entities, including estates and trusts.  It is defined as a person opening a new account and an individual who opens a new account for one who lacks legal capacity (i.e., a minor) or an entity that is not a legal person (i.e., a civic group).  Taken together, all of these factors and definitions should allow an institution to conclude that it has a reasonable belief as to a customer’s true identity.

Philadelphia Pa USA PATRIOT Act Privacy Rules – The Requirements

The hallmark of a C.I.P. should be flexibility.  Accordingly, the Joint Final Rule begins with the minimum steps for a C.I.P., and then allows each financial institution to develop its own C.I.P., which must be written and approved by the institution’s Board of Directors, by building upon those steps.  The four minimum steps to a CIP are verifying identities, keeping records, comparing lists, and notifying customers.

The 1st Step – Verifying Identities

The first element of a C.I.P is verifying identities.  This step is a two-pronged procedure – the customer provides identifying items and the financial institution validates those identifying items.

To satisfy the first prong, the customer (whether an individual or an entity) must provide three essential pieces of identifying items – name, address, and identification number (with a fourth requirement, date of birth, also required of individuals).

To satisfy the second prong, a financial institution’s C.I.P should specify by what methods (whether documentary proof and/or non-documentary confirmation) it will use to validate the customer’s identifying information.  Worthy of mention is the aspect that, although the Joint Final Rule specifically includes driver’s licenses and passports, it does not preclude other forms of identification.  Presently, however, some institutions only accept these two forms of identification.  Also of note is that the exact requirement of an identification number appears to be somewhat unsettled at this point.  Granted, with respect to estates and trusts, an Employer Identification Number is obligatory, but presently some institutions also require the individual fiduciary’s Social Security Number (as well as address and date of birth).  As a word of caution, the initial information provided to a financial institution for an estate or trust should be closely monitored to ensure that it is coded properly with the Employer Identification Number of the entity, and not the Social Security Number of the individual fiduciary.  Again, as the Joint Final Rule specifies only minimum requirements, it appears that these practices, which may be initially perceived as overreaching, are, in fact, not out of bounds.  The theme to keep in mind is that the financial institution is allowed to form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of the customer.

The 2nd Step – Keeping Records

The second element of a C.I.P is keeping records.  In other words, what measures must the financial institution take to document that the first step – verifying identities – was in fact performed.  The C.I.P rules contain a bifurcated record-keeping system.  The identifying information (i.e., name, address, and identification number, and, with individuals, date of birth) must be kept for five years after the account is closed, and all other information must be kept for five years after the record is made.

The 3rd Step – Comparing Lists

The third element of a C.I.P is comparing lists.  The C.I.P must include procedures for determining whether a customer appears on any list of known or suspected terrorist organizations issued by the federal government.  Although this requirement seems quite onerous upon first blush, financial institutions are not required to actively seek out any and all government lists.  Although no “Section 326 Government List” currently exists, it has been stated that the Department of the Treasury will create and provide a “Section 326 List” for the industry to use for this specific purpose.

The 4th Step – Notifying Customers

The fourth element of a C.I.P is notifying customers.  Every institution must provide customers with adequate notice that they are requesting information to verify their identities.  This notice can be either given to the customers on an individual basis, such as a handout, or on a collective basis, such as a placard displayed in the bank.  The statute also has sample language in the regulation that may be used.

Philadelphia Pa USA PATRIOT Act Privacy Rules – The Conclusion

The USA PATRIOT Act is a massive tome, with the commentary on it alone capable of filing a small warehouse.  I hope this note offers a little foothold to it.

Philadelphia Pa Probate Attorneys Guide

The Philadelphia Pa Probate Attorneys Guide is the core of this website. It consists of the best, most important articles on this website. Their focus is to provide the best and most complete information on a particular topic, rather than to sell products.

John B. Whalen, Jr., JD., LL.M., is an AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0 and Avvo Rated 10.0 Superb (obtaining over 95 client reviews and peer endorsements) premier and prestigious Attorney and Counselor at Law. He is located at 696 Pont Reading Road Ardmore Pa 19003. He serves all surrounding counties, on all 7 days, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on evenings, weekends, and holidays. He provides free initial consults all seven days, provides home visits, and provides flat fee structures. He can be reached by email at jw60297@me.com, and by telephone at 1-484-417-6244. He has amassed over 60 prestigious and premier professional awards and over 5000 client reviews and endorsements. Mr. Whalen has achieved the AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent award from Martindale, AV Peer Judicial Preeminent award, the Avvo Rated Superb 10.00 award, the Avvo Rated Top Lawyer award, the Clients’ Choice Award, and the Top One Percent (1%) award. He is the recipient of the Legum Magister Post-Doctorate Degree (LL.M.) in Taxation (from the Villanova University School of Law), a recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in Wills, Trusts, and Estates (from the Widener University School of Law), and a recipient of the ABA-BNA Law Award for Academic Excellence (from the Widener University School of Law).

Philadelphia Pa Payments to Family

wayne-pa-lawyers-attorneys-payments-to-family-funeral-directors

Philadelphia Pa Payments to Family and Funeral Directors – Intro

There are alternatives for settling small estates instead of the traditional Probate process. Philadelphia PA Payments to Family and Funeral Directors is one of them.

The profession of law, in general, and the focus of Estate Law, in particular, is a constant balancing act between science and art. Our true hallmark as professionals is when our knowledge of the intricacies of the science is solid enough to lend itself easily to the art of the various situations with which we are presented.

Most of the time, our estates do – and rightfully should – follow the traditional, time-tested route of the Probate and Estate Administration process.  Although this line of thinking is in no way wrong, it may be short sighted in certain circumstances where the formal procedures may be neither desired nor required.

The essence of our dilemma lies in being able to readily identify and handle those situations where a streamlined approach would be better suited.  Being creatures of habit, however, this is easier said than done.

Philadelphia Pa Payments to Family and Funeral Directors – The Statute

The Pennsylvania statute, 20 Pa.C.S.A.  § 3101, Payments to Family and Funeral Directors (Section 3101), contains a few alternatives for use in the settlement of small estates.  Simply stated, it allows for the payment of a decedent’s assets in certain situations with no court documents or no court supervision.  However, despite Section 3101’s simplicity, a stand-off can, and often does, exist between the statute’s theoretical ease and the world’s practical complexity.

On the one hand, the holder of a decedent’s assets does require that certain items (i.e., Short Certificate, Letters Testamentary, Small Estate Decree, etc.) be provided for release of the assets.  As they have the duties to both safeguard the decedent’s assets and release them only to the proper payee, they are certainly allowed to ensure that the one (payment of the assets) will work to cancel out the other (possible future liability).  In light of these responsibilities, any organization which has custody of a decedent’s assets (i.e., banks, brokerage firms, transfer agents, etc.) is often hesitant to release the decedent’s assets without any court documents or to anyone other than the estate’s personal representative.

On the other hand, Section 3101 does not require that any paperwork be provided to the holder of a decedent’s assets.  Reluctance may appear from those unfamiliar with this statute insofar as they don’t understand what to do when they are not provided with their traditionally required items.  As a practical matter, providing the holder of the asset with a copy of Section 3101 could be helpful, because it shows them that they can properly pay the asset and be released from liability.

Section 3101 contains five subsections.  Each subsection handles a particular situation where a decedent’s assets may be paid in the absence of any court documents.  Each subsection contains differences.

They each address different types of assets that can be paid, different organizations by whom they can be paid, different people to whom they can be paid, and different requirements for them to be paid.  More importantly, each subsection contains similarities.

The similarities lay in the fact that they each share five parallel traits which virtually overshadow their differences.  Accordingly, as Section 3101 addresses five scenarios, all of which contain strikingly similar attributes, it may be appropriate to view these parallel characteristics as the five traits.  Further, as the five scenarios, in essence, are exclusions to the dictates of its sister statute, Section 3102, and can be exclusions from the probate process itself independent of Section 3102, it may be convenient to refer to these five scenarios as the five exclusions.  With an understanding of the five traits and the five exclusions, the implementation of any of Section 3101’s situations can occur with relative ease.

Philadelphia Pa Payments to Family and Funeral Directors – The Five Traits

Section 3101’s five scenarios share similarities which virtually overshadow their differences, and they are referred to herein as the five traits.  These traits are the asset of the payment, the amount of the payment, the recipient of the payment, the protection of the payor of the payment, and the liability of the recipient of the payment.

Asset

The first trait (of the five traits of Section 3101) describes the asset that can be paid.  These assets include wages, salary, and employee benefits; deposit accounts; patient care accounts; insurance and annuities; and unclaimed property.

Amount

The second trait (of the five traits of Section 3101) describes the amount up to which an asset can be paid. The amounts are $10,000.00 and $11,000.00.

Prior to the statute’s update, these various dollar amounts comprised the sums of $5,000.00 (of wages, salary, and employee benefits); $3,500.00 (of deposit accounts); $3,500.00 and an additional $500.00, for a $4,000.00 total (of patient care accounts); $11,000.00 (of insurance or annuity proceeds); and $11,000.00 (of unclaimed property).

Recipient

The third trait (of the five traits of Section 3101) describes the recipient to whom the asset can be paid.  These recipients include the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and siblings, in that order of preference (referred to herein as the family hierarchy), and, in one case, a funeral director.  With the lone exception of a funeral director under Section 3010(c), it should be noted that only family members may take advantage of the five exclusions.  The wording of the statute implies that the exclusions are unavailable to agents, guardians, or other fiduciaries.

The fourth trait (of the five traits of Section 3101) describes the protection accorded to the payor of the asset.  This protection releases the payor to the same extent as if the payment was made to a duly appointed personal representative, and covers employers, banks, care facilities, insurance companies, and the State Treasurer.

The fifth trait (of the five traits of Section 3101) describes the liability attached to the payee of the asset.  This liability follows any person to whom payment is made (i.e., the family hierarchy and the funeral director), and holds the recipient answerable to anyone prejudiced by an improper distribution.

Philadelphia Pa Payments to Family and Funeral Directors – The Five Exclusions

Section 3101’s five scenarios are, in essence, exceptions to the dictates of its sister statute, Section 3102, as well as the probate process itself, and they are referred to herein as the five exclusions.  These exclusions speak to employers, banking houses, patient facilities, insurance companies, and the State Treasurer.

(a) Wages, salary or employee benefits

The first exclusion (of the five exclusions of Section 3101) speaks to employers.  An employer is permitted to pay the decedent’s wages, salary, or other benefits in an amount up to $10,000.00 to the family hierarchy.

Upon payment, the employer is released and the recipient is liable.  There are no further requirements for payment under the first exclusion, Section 3101(a).

(b) Deposit account

The second exclusion (of the five exclusions of Section 3101) speaks to banking houses.  A banking house (i.e., bank, savings association, savings and loan association, credit union or other savings association) is permitted to pay the decedent’s deposit account in an amount up to $10,000.00 to the family hierarchy.

Upon payment, the banking house is released and the recipient is liable.

There is a further requirement for payment under the second exclusion, Section 3101(b).  The recipient of the item must provide written evidence that the funeral services have been paid (either by a receipt or an affidavit from the funeral home).  Seemingly, not included in the definition of banking house is whether a brokerage firm would fall within the statute’s grip of other savings association.  Presumably, a brokerage account with only a money market account would be included, but a brokerage account containing any other type of investment (i.e., stocks, bonds, and mutual funds) would not be included.

(c) Patient’s care account

The third exclusion (of the five exclusions of Section 3101) speaks to patient facilities, and is a two-step process.  A patient facility is permitted to pay the decedent’s patient care account in an amount up to $10,000.00 to a funeral home for the decedent’s burial expenses.  It is then permitted to pay the balance of the account to the family hierarchy.  The total payment by the patient facility can be in an amount up to $10,000.00.  Upon payment, the patient facility is released and the recipient is liable.

There is a further requirement for payment under the third exclusion, Section 3101(c).  The decedent must have been a qualified recipient of medical assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare.  Although the wording of the statute implies that this exclusion is unavailable to private-pay patient care accounts, perchance it may not be so restricted in practice.

(d) Life insurance payable to estate

The fourth exclusion (of the five exclusions of Section 3101) speaks to insurance companies.  An insurance company is permitted to pay life, endowment, accident, or health insurance proceeds or annuity proceeds, otherwise payable to the decedent’s estate, in an amount up to $11,000.00 to the family hierarchy.  Upon payment, the insurance company is released and the recipient is liable.

There are two further requirements for payment under the fourth exclusion, Section 3101(d).

The first requirement is that the insurance company must wait sixty (60) days before making payment of the proceeds.

The first requirement and, at the time that the insurance company makes payment of the proceeds, the insurance company must not have received written claim for those proceeds by the decedent’s personal representative.  Presumably, if the insurance company has received written claim for the proceeds by the personal representative, they are duty bound to release those proceeds to the personal representative, and the matter should be investigated further.

(e) Unclaimed property

The fifth exclusion (of the five exclusions of Section 3101), and the newest addition to Section 3101, speaks to the State Treasurer.

The State Treasurer is permitted to pay the decedent’s unclaimed or abandoned property in an amount of up to $11,000.00 to the family hierarchy.

Upon payment, the State Treasurer is released and the recipient is liable.  There are further requirements for payment under the fifth exclusion, Section 3101(e).

The recipient must provide a death certificate, a sworn affidavit containing various averments about the status of a personal representative, and any other information determined by the State Treasurer to be necessary in order to distribute property or pay funds under this section to the proper person.

Philadelphia Pa Payments to Family and Funeral Directors – The Conclusion

A review of Section 3101 shows the five traits permeate its allowable payments.  These traits are asset, amount, recipient, protection, and liability.  Keeping these traits in mind, Section 3101 becomes easier to conceptualize.

A review of Section 3101 shows that the five exclusions speak to the various entities that may allow you to circumvent a small estate petition, as well as the probate process.  These exclusions speak to employers, banking houses, patient facilities, insurance companies, and the State Treasurer.

Keeping these exclusions in mind, Section 3101 becomes easier to utilize.  Being creatures of habit, perhaps, this may now be easier done than said.

John B. Whalen, Jr., JD., LL.M., is an AV Peer Review Rated Preeminent 5.0 and Avvo Rated 10.0 Superb (obtaining over 95 client reviews and peer endorsements) premier and prestigious Attorney and Counselor at Law. He is located at 696 Pont Reading Road Ardmore Pa 19003. He serves all surrounding counties, on all 7 days, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on evenings, weekends, and holidays. He provides free initial consults all seven days, provides home visits, and provides flat fee structures. He can be reached by email at jw60297@me.com, and by telephone at 1-484-417-6244. He has amassed over 60 prestigious and premier professional awards and over 5000 client reviews and endorsements.

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