Shechtman and Harris, Law Firm
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  Without A Will, There Really Is No Way

We have all heard or used the expression, "Where there is a will, there is a way." But what does or doesn't that mean when it comes to Estate Planning?

All of this was most recently brought to my mind by the recent Amtrak fatal train derailment in Philadelphia, my hometown. I am a second generation Philadelphia lawyer, with my son being the third generation Philadelphia lawyer in my family. I am a general practitioner who does estate planning and administration.

When I first started practicing law, thirty-nine years ago, estate planning consisted of wills and trusts used to distribute assets upon death and to have assets placed in trust for minors or incapacitated individuals. This is to be done upon the death of the testator and/or decedent.

Nowadays, lawyers and their clients need to consider-along with wills and trusts-an Advance Directive or Living Will, as well as possibly a Power of Attorney, should the client become disabled or just need help managing his or her affairs.

In addition, we must now consider addressing social justice in connection with social me dia. Over the last year, I have received birthday notices on Facebook for friends or acquaintances that have passed away over the last year or so.

In this day and age, it certainly seems appropriate that all adults, even our children in their twenties and thirties, should consider estate planning, and in doing so make arrangements regarding their accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other social media applications that connect our lives to each other.

Those that died tragically in Philadelphia on May 9th included a Midshipman from the U.S. Naval Academy who had yet to reach twenty-one, and the thirty-nine year old CEO of an Internet start-up who left behind a husband and two year old child.

Many of us do not even consider estate planning until we have children or approach retirement age. It is my suggestion that to achieve social justice in the handling of your personal affairs, especially in the event of an untimely and early death, that we all consider getting ahead of the curve in this regard.

Here in Pennsylvania, and I am sure in many other states, if you die intestate-that is without a will-then the laws of intestacy will dictate who gets your property. This generally includes a spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. So, if you do not want your state laws to determine who gets what when you die, then I urge you to see a lawyer who has knowledge in this area and properly prepare for your eventual demise.

Please remember to make provisions for the care and control on all your assets, including social media accounts. It is never too early to engage in estate planning, including an Advance Directive or Living Will as well as a Power of Attorney, should the need arise. Where there is a will, there is a way, and you will have provided the proper pathway.

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