Our Team

Michael A. Santanasto, Esq.
Harry J. Newman, Esq., LLM, Of-Counsel
Lisa A. Bartera, Esq.
Taylor R. D. Briggs, Esq.

Deborah B. Smull

Santanasto Law has Will and Estate Planning lawyers to help you with all your concerns. We like to plan for the worst, so you can enjoy life at its best!

The primary purpose of developing an Estate Plan is to help you examine your financial needs and assets in order to provide for your heirs in accordance with your intent and wishes. However, there are many additional benefits such as making medical decisions during your lifetime when you are no longer capable of making those decisions. In addition to providing for the distribution of your Estate, Estate Planning encourages individuals to make important decisions such as appointing a guardian for minor children and creating trusts to care for individuals with specific needs such as minors, disabled dependents, or specialized tax issues.

Since the complexities of Trust and Estate Planning go beyond the drafting of a Will, the Trusts & Estates Team at Santanasto Law can address various issues related to real estate, securities, banking transactions, Business Succession Planning, contract law or any other hurdle to securing your future and the future of your surviving loved ones.

The following is a brief description of our range of services. Please contact our office if you have a Trust and Estate Planning or Administration question, as this list is not exhaustive of our services.

Simple Estate Planning

Our office offers a discounted flat fee rate for individuals and couples looking for Simple Estate Planning. Our office usually recommends the following Simple Estate Planning documents:

Last Will and Testament. Wills direct how your real and personal property will be distributed upon death.

Power of Attorney for Health Care and Advanced Health Care Directive. This document is also sometimes referred to as a Living Will. A Health Care Directive declares your intent regarding your end of life medical decisions in advance of when you are no longer capable of making those decisions. It also allows you to appoint a person or persons in charge of your health care decisions.

Power of Attorney (POA). A Powerof Attorney gives someone else the power to act on your behalf to manage financial and property matters without the need for the appointment of a Guardian by the Courts. The appointment of a guardian may be needed if you become incapacitated and do not have a valid POA in place. However, POAs are also useful when you cannot handle day-to-day affairs due to inconvenience or travel.

Emergency Estate Planning

Our office is also able to provide Emergency Estate Planning and in most cases is able to travel to a client’s home or the hospital for the proper execution of Estate Planning documents.

Emergency Estate and Business Succession Planning Memo

Complex Estate Planning & Asset Protection

Our Trusts & Estates Team’s experience includes the preparation of Wills and Trusts for high-net-worth individuals, the analysis of inheritance taxes, the analysis of gift taxes, life insurance planning, planning for retirement benefits, and planning for long term care. We also have experience with international estate administration with clients who own foreign situs assets. The Santanasto Law Trusts & Estates Team assists clients in creating and executing asset protection strategies to minimize litigation risks, keep funds accessible, and reduce federal, state, and local taxes.

Business Succession Planning

At Santanasto Law, we understand that Business Succession planning is a vital piece of Estate Planning for owners of closely held and family businesses. Our services include reviewing the structure and founding documents of limited partnerships and limited liability companies and developing strategic options for our clients for the continuation of the operation of the business. This includes, not only succession planning for the next generation of owners, but also making sure that if the owner/director falls ill or is otherwise incapacitated that their business will be able to operate during this period.

Charitable Planning

Our Team is experienced in creating and executing lifetime and testamentary charitable giving plans designed to achieve both charitable and tax objectives.

Trust & Estate Administration & Probate

The Santanasto Law Trusts & Estates Team assists individuals, executors, and trustees in all phases and aspects of Estate and Trust administration. The Team is experienced in probate in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the preparation of inheritance tax returns, the distribution of assets to trust and estate beneficiaries, preparing accountings, helping fiduciaries settle accounts, and helping fiduciaries obtain releases from liability.

Trust & Estate Dispute Resolution

Our Trusts & Estates Team represents clients’ interests that are the subject of litigation in court. However, often these matters are more cost efficiently resolved by mediation, arbitration, or other types of alternative dispute resolution. Our Trusts & Estates Team is experienced in determining the best legal resolution and representing our clients in various dispute resolution forums.

Orphans’ Court Litigation

When the efforts to mediate or otherwise resolve Trust and Estate matters outside the Courtroom fail, we have an experienced Courtroom team who has handled fiduciary litigation within the Orphans’ Court. The Orphans’ Court is the division of the County Court of Common Pleas designated by statute to resolve most matters concerning Trusts, Estates, fiduciary matters, guardianships, and adoptions. Our teams can assist you in Orphans’ Court litigation matters involving: Wills Contests; Surcharge Actions, Objections to Accounts; Executors/Trustee fees and commissions; Will and Trust Interpretation; Mismanagement of Estates and Trusts; Guardianships; removal of Executor Trustee; and Petitions for an Accounting.