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“Protect Your Family’s Future … Today: The Truth About Wills and Trusts”

The PBA, in partnership with local bar associations across the commonwealth, launched an important public education campaign about estate planning on Oct. 18, 2004. The campaign, “The Truth About Wills and Trusts,” was designed to educate people about wills, the probate process and trusts in Pennsylvania.

Statistics show that a majority of Americans die without a will or some other safeguard of estate planning in place. If a loved one dies without an estate plan, the surviving family members may face unnecessary headaches and hardship at a difficult time. No matter how large or small someone’s estate and assets are, everyone needs to have a plan … one that protects and provides for their loved ones. People should explore every option and consider the type of estate planning that is right for them. Although a will should be considered a necessity and is a good start, in some cases people may want to consider such things as a trust.

Unfortunately, some living trusts are marketed to senior citizens through high-pressure sales pitches that prey on the fear that assets will be tied up indefinitely or that estates are prone to heavy taxes and fees if a living trust is not in place. These marketing schemes try to convince consumers that a living trust is right for them even though many of the complex rules and fees that can complicate estate distribution do not exist in Pennsylvania. Victims can be sold self-help “kits,” costing several thousand dollars that are nothing more than standard forms that may not be valid under state law. This campaign will provide Pennsylvanians with the truth about wills and trusts.

Working with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, advertisements were placed in newspapers throughout the state, and a statewide toll-free hotline was made available for citizens to request a free brochure outlining these issues. A formal news conference announcing the kick-off of the campaign was held on Oct. 18 in Harrisburg. Representatives of various organizations, including the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the PBA Real Property and Probate Section, took part in the news conference. Many local bar associations held events throughout the week as part of the campaign.

The following local bar associations participated in the campaign:
Beaver County Bar Association; Berks County Bar Association; Blair County Bar Association; Bucks County Bar Association; Cambria County Bar Association; Cameron County Bar Association; Centre County Bar Association; Columbia-Montour Bar Association; Cumberland County Bar Association; Dauphin County Bar Association; Delaware County Bar Association; Erie County Bar Association; Fayette County Bar Association; Franklin County Bar Association; Jefferson County Bar Association; Lackawanna Bar Association; Lancaster Bar Association; Lebanon County Bar Association; Bar Association of Lehigh County; Lycoming Law Association; Mercer County Bar Association; Mifflin County Bar Association; Monroe County Bar Association; Montgomery Bar Association; Northampton County Bar Association; Northumberland County Bar Association; Schuylkill County Bar Association; Somerset County Bar Association; Susquehanna County Bar Association; Washington County Bar Association; Westmoreland Bar Association; Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association; York County Bar Association.