Will You Find Yourself in a New Tax Bracket in 2023?

Will You Find Yourself in a New Tax Bracket in 2023? A few weeks ago, our friends at the IRS released their tax adjustments for 2023. (Feeling brave? You can check out the full report on their website.) Every year the IRS adjusts the taxable income brackets for inflation. As you can imagine, this year has seen a tremendous bump based on major spike inflation. And likely your income did not receive an equivalent bump, which could impact your current bracket.

Will You Find Yourself in a New Tax Bracket in 2023?
Why Brackets Matter

The IRS doesn’t charge taxpayers a flat rate. Instead, the United States operates on a progressive system using seven brackets, 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. People with lower taxable incomes pay lower federal income tax rates. Additionally, those with higher taxable income pay a higher tax rate.

But whichever tax bracket you find yourself in, you don’t pay that percentage on your full taxable income. Instead, the IRS divides your income in chunks and each chunk gets taxed at the corresponding bracket rate. Nerd Wallet does a great job of breaking this down in comparable charts.

When the IRS raises their tax bracket limits, more of your income gets taxed at the lower tax rates. The government designed the annual realignment to avoid “tax bracket creep” where incomes get pushed into higher brackets with inflation.

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What Else Impacts Your Tax Bill?

Tax bracket adjustments aren’t the only thing that help you save money on your taxes. Also, every year, you can save money by taking advantage of applicable tax credits and tax deductions.

Tax credits won’t affect your bracket, but they reduce your taxes owed dollar for dollar. Tax deductions, whether itemized or standard, reduce your overall taxable income. By reducing your taxable income, you could fall into a lower bracket and pay a lower tax rate.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, you could see your paycheck increase in 2023 from the lower rates. At the same time, you may also find your tax bill at the end of year lower. As a reminder, though, you won’t feel those tax bill breaks until you file your 2023 taxes in April 2024.

Confused or overwhelmed? Relax! Our office provides tax return preparation services for businesses of all sizes and individuals. As we walk you through the process, we make sure you understand every step of the way. Because with our experience, we find every tax deduction we can to ensure you pay the lowest possible tax rate.

See how we can help minimize your tax responsibilities by calling our office at 724-216-5180 or contact us using our online form.

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Avoid Three Common Problems to Minimize Tax Pains

This winter you can avoid three common problems to minimize tax pains that will make tax time easier and quicker. While gorging on your kids’ candy and sipping a pumpkin spice latte, you probably don’t have taxes on your mind. But maybe you should. Individuals and business owners alike handle tax season much better when they prepare. Year over year, we see tax filers ensnared in easily avoidable pitfalls.

Avoid Three Common Problems to Minimize Tax Pains.
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Tax due dates will be here sooner than you think.
1. If You Don’t Have a Record of It, Don’t Try to Claim It

Maybe you legitimately paid for a new business computer but cannot find the receipt. You can always find the sales record somewhere. For example, you can check the card statement you used to purchase the item. Often the store itself can give you a copy of your bill of sale.

BUT don’t attempt to claim the personal laptop you bought for your kid for college. We both know that’s not a business expense. Guess what? The IRS will figure that out, too. Make several little “they’ll never notice” claims and you could expose yourself to costly penalties and undermine your creditability in dealing with the IRS.

Other murky areas that can raise red flags include:

Claiming utility costs for a home office (make sure you do it correctly).

Untraceable income to family members.

Lavish gifts.

Other expenses outsized for the level of income generated by a business.

Our advice: Be honest. That keeps you on the right side of an audit. When you have questions, don’t just guess at the answers or listen to some guy at a bar. Instead, ask a tax professional for advice.

2. I’ll Do It Tomorrow

Even if in school you worked “better under pressure” to study or write a paper, remember, taxes take time. You can’t cram for taxes by waiting until the last possible second.

When you wait until the 11th hour, you risk not having everything you need. Scrambling to organize paperwork the second week of April each year turns into risky business. Murphy’s Law will ensure important receipts will vanish or figures won’t add up correctly.

Our advice: Collate your receipts and record them (manually or automatically with software) throughout the year. Entering receipts periodically decreases the chance of losing important paperwork or gives you time to locate or replace lost items.

Bonus: You increase your chances of maximizing your deductions when you have time to consider all possible deductions thoughtfully.

3. Know What You Owe

Ever hear the expression: “you can’t use ignorance as a defense?” Know the full amount of your tax responsibilities. Many taxpayers find themselves in a bind by not being aware of their financial responsibilities.

Instead, go through everything honestly and find out the full extent of your obligations. If you come up shy, we can work out a plan to sort things out with the IRS. Being blissfully unaware does not exempt you and avoiding it will only make things worse.

Likewise, as we mentioned in previous blogs, if you receive a letter from the IRS, do not ignore it! We cannot stress this enough. Avoiding the letters, won’t make the problem go away. It will sit there and accrue more and more fees.

We have good news! You still have enough time to get things together, and we bet it’ll take less time than you think, too. So, deal with the shoebox under your desk, find a lost receipt, and get your paperwork organized.

You also have time to ask questions about allowable deductions and the best way to attack your unique tax situations. We can help. Our experienced tax professionals have helped hundreds of taxpayers just like you. If you can Avoid Three Common Problems to Minimize Tax Pains life will be easier come tax time! Contact our office at 724-216-5180 or use our online form to learn more.

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Keep Calm and Prepare Your Taxes Properly

Keep calm and prepare your taxes properly. In this age of misinformation, people can easily get duped into believing complete nonsense. We won’t get into any examples here apart from the recent hullabaloo concerning armed IRS agents. Let’s cut to the chase: NO, armed IRS agents will not show up at your door demanding back taxes. You are still protected by laws. Rather than feeding into the hype, the best thing you can do is keep calm and prepare your taxes properly.

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Keep calm and prepare your taxes properly. Relax, IRS agents aren’t coming directly for you.
How’d We Get Here?

It all began with a legitimate job posting for Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent positions. This is not a new unit. Once called the Intelligence Unit, the CI has existed in some form since 1919.

Currently, the CI has around 3,000 employees. Of those, only 2,100 serve as special agents who can carry firearms. These special agents investigate criminal tax violations (think Al Capone-level money laundering, national security, or defense matters). Last year alone, the CI identified more than $10 billion in tax fraud and other financial crimes.

Every year the CI loses 150-175 special agents due to retirements and attrition. This year, they hope to hire 300-350 special agents over the course of the entire year. When you consider the average annual losses, they looked to add a net gain of 150-175 special agents.

Prepare for the twist.

Social Media Mayhem

Hell hath no fury like fired-up conspiracy theorists, who falsely repeated claims the IRS was hiring 87,000 armed agents.

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After some rather impressive mental gymnastics, they connected the CI job posting to a recent U.S. Department of Treasury Report. The May 2021 report noted that the IRS could hire an additional 86,852 employees by 2031 from the Inflation Reduction Act.

For reference, the IRS currently has approximately 81,000 employees in total. The vast majority of those employees serve as civilian auditors and revenue collectors. Whether the IRS actually needs to (or could) add so many to their current headcount is another matter altogether.

And yet, that didn’t stop false claims that the IRS would somehow raise an army of “locked and loaded pencil pushers.” I cannot stress enough: Repeating a falsehood doesn’t make it true.

A Better Use of Your Time

Instead of getting caught up in the frenzy, you’re better off focusing on properly preparing your taxes. I’d make an “…or else” joke here, but don’t want to feed into the insanity.

Rather, we recommend you focus on carefully preparing your personal and business tax returns. Doing so will give you peace of mind and help your financial security.

A trained tax attorney can help you avoid audits or represent you if you find yourself being audited. Additionally, all indications are that the number of audits will slightly increase. Our experienced tax professionals have helped hundreds of taxpayers just like you.

We’ll help you prepare your taxes correctly and avoid audits of any kind. We can also debunk any additional myths for you about tax preparation or the IRS. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

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Know Your Legal Rights if You Get Audited

Everyone should Know Your Legal Rights if You Get Audited. No one likes to receive notice of questions about their tax return from the IRS or a State’s Department of Revenue. So, if you find yourself in this situation, you should know your legal rights. Each Department of Revenue for each state and the federal government provide specific taxpayer rights.

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Know Your Legal Rights if You Get Audited

State of Pennsylvania Taxpayers Bill of Rights

Pennsylvania taxpayers have a Bill of Rights that outlines standard processes and procedures that the Department of Revenue must follow. These ensure equal and fair treatment of all taxpayers.

These rights include:

  • The Right to Be Informed where you receive clear and understandable communication
  • The Right to Confidentiality to retain the security and confidentiality of tax returns and other information
  • The Right to Retain Representation by a CPA or attorney
  • The Right to Challenge the Department’s Position and Be Heard with a specific appeal process
Federal Taxpayers Bill of Rights

Further, the IRS operates under a similar set of procedures that include additional taxpayer rights. Additionally, should you receive notification of a federal audit of your tax returns, you have the following rights:

  • The Right to Be Informed so you know what you must do to comply with tax laws
  • The Right to Quality Service that includes prompt, courteous, and professional assistance
  • The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax where you only pay that amount legally due
  • The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard with a response from the IRS in a timely fashion
  • The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum, including taking your case to court, if necessary
  • The Right to Finality with guidelines on maximum timelines for audits, challenges, and debt repayment
  • The Right to Privacy where any IRS action complies with the law and is no more intrusive than necessary
  • The Right to Confidentiality in that the IRS will not disclose any information provided without taxpayer authorization
  • The Right to Retain Representation, including assistance from a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford to retain representation
  • The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System that considers circumstances that might affect a taxpayer’s ability to comply

However, just knowing your rights as a taxpayer doesn’t mean you will automatically know the best course of action during an audit. An experienced tax attorney advocating for you during the process can help relieve your stress and minimize your tax liabilities.

Help With All Matters of Tax

Finally, if you have questions or need to resolve a matter with federal or state tax auditors, RELAX. Likewise, as experienced tax attorneys, it’s our job to protect your interests throughout the audit and guide you to a resolution for your situation. Call our office today at 724-216-5180 or complete our online form to learn more.

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Seven Tax Considerations for New Businesses

Seven tax considerations for new businesses is our blog topic this month. Did you start a business in 2021? As we enter tax season, we see a lot of new owners make several common mistakes. Here’s seven tax considerations for new businesses to keep you out of hot water with the IRS.

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Newer business owners need to know small business taxes.
1. Yes, You Have to File Taxes.

Above all, you’ll need to understand how rules changes if you’re new to running a business. As an individual, you only need to file taxes if your gross income exceeds $12,550. That number drops to a net income of $400 as a business owner. You also have to carefully monitor all your income and expenses, much more than as an employee.

2. And Yes, You May Have to Pay Quarterly Estimated Taxes.

When you work for someone else, they take takes out of your paycheck on your behalf. So, when you work for yourself, the IRS expects you to estimate your taxes and submit them quarterly. Failing to do so sets you up for underpayment penalties.

3. Claim Start Up Costs.

Even if you run your business from your kitchen table, it cost money to get set up. You can deduct anything you needed to pay to get up and running, including research and training (Subject to a $5K Limitation ). You can claim everything from marketing, website creation, office furniture and supplies, vehicle costs, and more.

4. The IRS Sees You As ‘Fresh Meat.’

Unfortunately, having your own business raises all sorts of interest from the IRS. Getting audited isn’t the end of the world, IF you’ve carefully followed directions on expenses and deductions with receipts. Keeping up with all the changes year to year can get overwhelming. And if you make a mistake, it can get expensive really quick.

5. Don’t Mix Business and Personal Finances.

If you’ve just started out, you may not have thought about having a separate business checking account yet. But this is one of the first things you should do as a new business owner. Even if you barely edge over that $400 net income line, have a separate account for business income and expenses. This makes things easier to separate for filing purposes and cleaner during any audits.

6. Self-Employed? Don’t Expect a Refund.

Most employees look forward to late spring every year when they receive a windfall as part of their tax return. We’ll leave for another conversation as to why you should minimize tax refunds that basically serve as free loans for the government. Most small businesses serve as a pass-through entity for the owner’s income. Owners pay taxes on that income as part of their individual taxes without any withholdings to absorb the additional taxes. ​

7. Learn from this Return.

Even with a tax specialist helping you, expect a few lessons on how to improve next year. Look closely at your return. Go over it with a tax expert and make sure you understand any penalties or additional deductions for next year. We like to say it’s not rocket science. But, when you’re just starting out, it can really feel like it!

Did you start a business in 2021? If you feel unsure on what to organize or how to get started, relax! We hope that our Seven Tax Considerations for New Businesses blog helped a little.

Still confused? Our, our experienced tax professionals can help you minimize any taxes you owe and ensure you comply with all applicable laws. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

7. Learn from this Return Even with a tax specialist helping you, expect a few lessons on how to improve next year. Look closely at your return. Go over it with a tax expert and make sure you understand any penalties or additional deductions for next year. We like to say it’s not rocket science, but when you’re just starting out, it can really feel like it! Did you start a business in 2021 ? If you feel unsure on what to organize or how to get started, relax! O ur experienced tax professionals can help you minimize any taxes you owe and ensure you comply with all applicable laws. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

Prepare for the Inevitable Upcoming Tax Season

Every year right between Christmas and New Year’s people start dreading tax season. That shoe box or receipt drawer may not close all the way anymore. Maybe you just found the statement for quarterly tax estimates (from June) in another pile of papers. Likewise, maybe your resolution list from January 2021 just resurfaced that included “stay on top of taxes” on the list. You already know that when you prepare for the inevitable upcoming tax season, it will suck so much less. So, let’s get started!

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Get Out Ahead of Crunch Time

Rather than pouring yourself another cup of cheer and making tax preparations next year’s problem, face it head on. You can pour that cup of cheer if you’d like. However, digging in now will make Future You so much less stressed come tax time.

Picture yourself the evening of April 14, 2022, what do you see yourself doing? Do you see yourself furiously adding up totals? Trying to find random tax documentations? Or would you rather have plans to join your buddies for a well-deserved thirsty Thursday at the local watering hole?

Get Organized

Most tax experts will say it matters less how you organize your paperwork but more that you actually do it. So long as you have materials in order so that you can produce documentation requested for tax purposes, you’re good. You will save money in preparation fees.

If you don’t currently have a system or experience exasperated looks from your tax professional each year, ask yourself why. Perhaps your current system or lack thereof could use a tune up? Rely on the advice of experts on how to create or improve on your current techniques. You’ll make everyone’s lives easier.

Check Your Information

Double check that all your information on file with the IRS is correct, including direct deposit information for refunds. Even something as simple as an address change can get forgotten during a busy year.

Closely examine everything from dependent information to retirement and investment accounts to income streams. This year remember to check Economic Impact Payments and Child Tax Credit Updates, too, if applicable. Spotting differences now can avoid potential problems after filing.

Ask Questions and Get Clarifications Early

Do some early research to see if you need to file differently or can add new deductions. Whether you work with an accountant or use a self-service tax filing tool, ask follow-up questions from the experts.

Get clarification on changes in tax deductions early in the season so you have time to do something about them. Finding out about a new deduction does no good if you didn’t save the proof necessary to claim it.

Nervous about this upcoming tax season? How will you prepare for the inevitable upcoming tax season? Relax! Our experienced tax professionals can help you minimize any taxes you owe and ensure you comply with all applicable laws. We help our clients avoid legal issues with their taxes while providing peace of mind. Complete our online form or call us today at 724-216-5180 to learn more.

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Making Charitable Donations Part of Your Estate Plan

As you create an estate plan ( yes, you need one ), consider how your assets will be divided upon your death. Most people don’t consider charitable donations as a way to minimize estate/inheritance taxes. However, did you know that making charitable donations part of your estate plan could lessen the tax burden for your heirs? Read on to learn more.

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Why Designate Charitable Donations in Estate Plans?

For example, some people decide they don’t want to leave all their assets to their children or other beneficiaries. Likewise, others don’t have beneficiaries to leave their assets to but want to ensure their estate contributes to a lasting legacy.

For anyone passionate about a specific cause, making charitable donations part of your estate plan may be the right choice for you. Leaving funds or other assets to a designated charity could make the most impact. Tax-exempt charities are set up to maximize the effectiveness of gifts they receive, planned or otherwise.

Any funds given to a recognized public charity are not taxable. While this may decrease the overall amount any named beneficiaries receive, most people appreciate the sentiment during their grieving period. Making charitable donations part of your estate plan may be a good choice.

What Charities Count?

Any charity recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) can receive tax-exempt donations as part of an estate plan. These include charitable organizations, churches and religious organizations, private foundations, and other non-profits.

In addition, depending on the size of your gift, you should contact the charity to inform them of your plans. They may need time to prepare for a large gift (over $10,000). They can also provide basic information to list in the estate plan to streamline the process. If you do name other beneficiaries in your estate plan, you should probably let them know your plans, too. This can minimize hurt feelings and contested wills upon your death.

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How to Get Started.

There are a number of ways to plan gift to charities, foundations, or others as part of your estate plan. Estate/inheritance tax rules seem to change every year. So, your estate attorney can work with your designated charities to determine which options make the most sense for everyone. By making your wishes clear in your estate plan, you leave little room for misinterpretation. You can minimize additional work for your heirs and maximize their tax benefits while supporting organizations important to you.

In conclusion, are you not sure how to name a charity in your estate plan? RELAX! Our estate planning experts can walk you through options. Each will fit your unique circumstances. We help with will preparation, trust creation and administration, probate administration, and more. Call us today at 724-216-5180 or complete the online form to schedule a free consultation.

What Makes a Great Estate Attorney?

When a person dies, what happens to their stuff? If they have an estate plan, they will have everything outlined. Preparation is key. Estate attorneys can help someone put together a will, set up trusts, and schedule charitable donations on the deceased behalf. A great estate attorney will also make arrangements for other common issues after a person passes. So, what makes a great estate attorney?

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Desk-Side Manners

Medical patients will often seek out doctors with great bedside manners. Clients should expect the same thing, courtesy, and explanations from their estate attorney. Desk-side manners if you will. An estate attorney that cares will take the time to fully understand your family’s needs and your personal wishes. They will help you sort out your options. In addition, they will also help you fully understand each option before making those decisions.

Efficient and Thorough Preparations

Nobody likes thinking about their demise. Occasionally time just simply isn’t on the client’s side. Meanwhile, a good estate attorney will do a thorough job preparing estate documentation to minimize anxiety. Experienced and caring estate attorneys will do the same thorough preparations, but also turn things around quickly. You should never have to chase down an estate attorney for the status of paperwork if time is of the essence. Once you have discussed everything you want prepared, they should give you a timeline and meet it without issue.

Does All the Things

Sometimes estate attorneys will specialize in a few specific areas like probate or will creation. Exceptional estate attorneys can be your one-stop shop for a variety of legal issues. You can trust them to execute on everything related to estate planning and provide better results over engaging multiple attorneys. If they’ve been doing it long enough, an estate attorney should have the experience setting up and administrating trusts, finding ways to avoid probate, or minimizing tax implications.

Great estate attorneys can help their clients navigate a very complex legal system. They provide their clients peace of mind during planning and also during execution.

Do you have a great estate attorney? If you need assistance planning, updating, or executing on an existing plan, relax! Call our office at 724-216-5180 or complete the online form to schedule a free consultation.

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August is National Make a Will Month

If you’re like me, you’re wondering why we need to say August is National Make a Will Month. Why do we need to be reminded of the importance of having a will? Also, wills aren’t just for “rich” people. As responsible grownups shouldn’t we have already done this? We understand that talking about death – namely YOURS – can feel uncomfortable. But it’s worth a bit of discomfort today to save your loved ones the double heartache after your passing.

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A thorough legal will and estate plan matters to those you care about.
Making a Will

Did you know only an estimated 46 percent American adults have a will? That means more than half the adults in this country are letting the government decide how to divide up their assets after their death. A court will not know (or care) about your wishes. If you didn’t write them down in a will, they don’t matter. And if they should leave behind minor dependents, they are also leaving their future care decisions up to strangers. I can think of nothing more heartbreaking than a child losing their parent then being shipped someplace they’re not comfortable. Making a will also means your heirs pay estate taxes quicker and may receive the inheritances faster. So, yes, regardless of whether you consider yourself wealthy or not, you do need a will.

Updating a Will

Even if you already have a will, this National Make a Will Month can remind you to review it. It triggers a reminder to be responsible. Kind of like the time change triggers folks to check their smoke detectors batteries (another responsible adult thing to have). Situations change, sometimes frequently. Periodically reexamining the language in your will can remind you to update beneficiaries or remove assets you no longer have. If your kids have grown, maybe they should take more responsibility over your assets than another less-reliable family member. You really don’t have to review your will annually – unless you live a particularly chaotic life. But recognizing National Make a Will Month can be the prompt you need when necessary.

Ready to Make a Will?

Hopefully this prompted you to think more about what happens to your possessions and your loved ones after your death. If the thought of dying and leaving your loved ones stranded stresses you out, relax! Yes, August is National Make a Will Month. However, we can help you make or update a will any time of the year, not just during the month of August. Call our office at 724-216-5180 or complete the online form to schedule a free consultation.

What Makes a Good Guardian?

What makes a good guardian? Creating a will and estate plan means thinking about those you leave behind after you die. If you have young children, wards or even beloved pets, your will should also include naming a guardian. So, what do you look for in a guardian?

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Find the right guardian.
A Guardian’s Role

Firstly, after your death, a guardian will bear responsibility for the care of those named. Most commonly this refers to minor children under the age of 18. A guardian provides basic necessities, medical care, education and support until the child reaches 18 years old. They must act in the best interests of the child.

Common Guardian Nominees

Usually, the other parent or a stepparent may be named as guardian of young children. While tempting to name your parents (after all, they raised you), consider the likelihood of them outliving you. More commonly siblings, close friends, or other adult children make good nominees to serve as guardians. In the best scenarios, the adult already knows the child and their personality well.

Important Attributes

Most importantly, a prospective guardian should have the physical and mental abilities as well as the financial stability to care for a child. They should also be dependable and trustworthy. In addition, beyond that baseline, you’ll have to consider who would best fill your role in your absence. Who shares your core values and beliefs? Who would parent your child in a manner similar to how you would? Guardians should also have the patience to support a child through the traumatic experience of losing their parent.

Consent to Serve as Guardian

This should go without saying. However, we’ll just put this right here: you should always ASK someone before naming them guardian of your child. In the event of your untimely death, named guardians should be aware of their new responsibilities. Having a named person unable or unwilling to serve as your child’s guardian could be doubly devastating for them.

Backup Plans

To lessen the anxiety of finding THE guardian, parents should consider naming additional adults to serve as backup guardians. Things happen and even a well-informed, amenable first choice may have to bow out. Having multiple options can lessen the burden on someone who may no longer be in a position to serve as guardian.

Periodically Review

As with most aspects of an estate plan, it makes sense to revisit guardian selection on a regular basis. Divorces, fallings out, or other unfortunate events could make previously ideal guardians no longer the best choices. Of course, you should make those impacted by your changes aware of them. ​

Every parent of young children should include guardianship as part of their estate planning. Knowing what makes a good guardian is only part of the equation. We know that every client has unique situations, and we take the time to understand your needs and wishes. Then we’ll offer advice on your best options. Call John A. Cochran, Esquire, in Greensburg at 724-216-5180 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.