Estate Planning

I offer the entire comprehensive suite of Estate Planning services, though each client differs in what services they need. I find that many clients who have attempted to complete an estate plan in the past or who have a dormant estate plan, do not fully understand how the estate plan 'works' or what will happen after they pass. This creates confusion, uncertainty and dread.


A great estate plan is one that you understand, are comfortable with and know will work the way you want it to after you pass. My primary goal as an estate planning attorney is to ensure that your directions are followed and that your fears are alleviated. I do this in a cost-effective, efficient and professional manner so that you are never left wondering "What did I just pay for?". Part of this goal is to ensure that your family does not end up in court for any reason and that any disagreements when you are no longer there to officiate did not originate with your estate planning documents.

Calls are returned promptly, both to you and, when the time comes, to your executors and trustees.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is making decisions about who, when and under what circumstances a beneficiary should get your assets. The core idea behind estate planning is making sure that your desires are carried out in the manner and way that you want them to be when you are no longer here to make sure that they are.

What is advanced estate planning?


Advanced estate planning involves the use of a variety of techniques to attempt to preserve wealth and assets from undesired actors like creditors, predators, the government or the nursing home. Creditors include not only your own creditors but those of your children or other beneficiaries. Predators include anyone who would seek to take value from either your assets or the assets that you leave to your beneficiaries. A common predator is unwanted claimants such as the ex-spouses of children.


What is an advanced estate plan?

Advanced estate plans often include the use of irrevocable trusts, split share or 'bloodline' trusts, retirement asset trusts and traditional pour over wills and revocable trusts. Each family and person has a unique situation that needs to be addressed and equally unique needs to protect their beneficiaries. Not every person needs every estate plan, but everyone needs an estate plan. Additionally, entire estates can be protected from potential loss to nursing home bills if estate planning is executed and correctly funded in advance of needing specialized care. These are time-sensitive planning techniques and the sooner theya re executed the sooner they can be implemented.

What is a Guardianship of minors designation?

Guardianship directives designate who will take care of your children if you suddenly pass. These documents are very important to determine who will get custody and take care of your children. I do not charge a separate fee for these documents as any estate plan involving minor children is incomplete without them. 


How does a Gun Trust assist with an Estate Plan?

As part of your Gun Trust, specific beneficiaries are set up to receive the weapons upon your death and successor Trustees are named to ensure that the beneficiaries receive the weapons. This is explained in greater detail when executing and operating the Trust. Many gun owners don't just own a few guns, they own a collection. These collections grow over the years to be worth many thousands of dollars.  While a gun trust is an excellent supplement, it does not negate the need for a comprehensive estate plan giving specific instructions to the heirs of the estate who gets what items and what property. Nothing is more tragic than finding out a close friend's entire collection was sold for less than its value or worse, destroyed, because inadequate instructions were left to the family. This is especially important when dealing with NFA firearms as most family members and many lawyers have no idea how or who can handle them or how to pass them down. Estates have been destroying collections due to inadequate Estate Planning where an anti-gun family member inherits and subsequently destroys the weapons. This can be an enormous loss to the estate and family of valuable collector's pieces as well as family history. 

How often do I need to update my Estate Plan?


There is no bright line rule on how often to update. A good rule of thumb is that anytime you have a major life change, be it the birth or death of a family member or a significant change in their condition is a good time to update. Additionally, checking to see if everything is how you want it every five years suits most people even if things have not seemed to have changed. Many of my clients have written Estate Plans when their children were very young and now need to update them as the children have become or will soon become adults. Changes in marriages, beneficiaries and people who are in your life are also excellent and very important times to review your documents. Having incorrect documents can mean giving money to an ex-spouse, estranged child, or other undesired consequences. 


Can you review my existing Estate Planning documents?


Yes. As part of setting up a new Estate Plan, your existing documents will be reviewed. However, until a Fee Agreement Letter (FAL) is signed, I do not offer legal advice concerning those documents. 

I am scheduled for deployment and want a private attorney to write my will?

I offer expedited service to anyone who is subject to deployment orders or has a critical need for time-sensitive planning.


How can I get more information?

Please contact me directly and attend one of my upcoming seminars or events where I discuss all the different types of estate planning, including planning to protect against the nursing home and protecting special needs beneficiaries. I can be reached at (412) 249-9180. If there is an immediate need, we can schedule an appointment as soon as one is available. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Contact Benjamin Scott Johns, Esq.

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