Estate and Elder Law

Estate and Elder Law

Estate planning

Estate planning is vital to the future and the care of both you and your loved ones. Proper Estate planning also protects against the unforeseen circumstances that can arise in life.
A good estate plan ensures that an individual and his or her property are properly cared not only during their lifetime but that property and possessions pass to the intended beneficiaries at the time of death with the payment of a minimum amount of tax.

The Principal Documents to establish these goals include things such as:

Wills

A Will is the legal document that becomes effective upon your death. Every adult should have a Will. Although there are websites that can provide the outlines of a Will, there are estate planning and administration issues that might not be easily noticed. Also, the preparation of a Will requires a thorough good working knowledge of different laws. The Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code, the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax, and the Federal Estate Tax might all be involved. Wills written without consideration of this, rarely accomplish the goals of a good estate plan and can lead to unintended results.

There are many good and important reasons to have a Will.

A Will enables a person to distribute assets to whomever he or she desires.

A Will allows a person to appoint an executor, someone knowledgeable about the person, to administer the estate at the time of death.

If you have minor children, a Will allows parents the opportunity to name guardians for their children.

Depending on the size and composition of an estate, a Will can accomplish valuable tax planning.

Estate and Elder Law

Durable Powers of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that becomes effective if there is an emergency and you cannot handle your own affairs. As with a Will, every adult should have a Durable Power of Attorney. In case of an emergency, a Power of Attorney allows you to name someone as your agent. That gives them the “power” to make decisions on your behalf like financial, banking and the sale of property. The agent must act in your best interest and must not spend your money for the agent’s benefit. A durable Power of Attorney also allows you to name a guardian if you become legally incapacitated instead of the need for expensive guardianship proceedings.

Estate Administration / Probate

Also, after a loved one has passed, you and your family may need help with the estate administration process. Understanding this difficult time, we hope to work with you to ease the burden and limit the risk involved with many, sometimes confusing questions which arise. While the probate process in Pennsylvania, compared to other states, is mostly straightforward, settling an estate presents unique challenges for the executors. Things like creditors’ claims, tax liabilities, and legal deadlines can complicate the estate administration process, and overwhelm the family. An attorney experienced in estate administration and probate can help greatly in this tough time.

Estate and Elder Law

Living Wills

A Living Will, like a Power of Attorney, is a document for when a person is facing a medical emergency and provides direction to the health care providers. A Living Will is used to express your intentions if you cannot relate your wishes. The Living Will is used if you become incompetent or are in an end-stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness.

A second document that is usually combined with a Living Will is the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney. This document provides the specifics of how you want to have your medical condition taken care of if you cannot express your wishes.

Overall, the estate planning process involves a careful review of your assets, life insurance, age, family needs, and intentions. Estate planning does involve some financial and tax planning, which most attorneys will work hand in hand you’re your investments advisors to ensure that the investment plans match the estate plans.

Guardianship

Sometimes, a family member or friend cannot effectively make life decisions. If a Power of Attorney is not complete, or not able to be done, a guardianship may be required. Unfortunately, things happen due to conditions at a young age, mental infirmity resulting from a birth condition or later injury, or from the aging process. In those situations, the appointment of a guardian by a court is required. The Court will appoint a guardian to allow someone to make personal and health-related decisions and to protect that person’s financial assets.  We can help work through the legal procedures involved from the legal pleadings, medical evaluation, and court appointment. We can also help with the financial aspects of selling property and the final accounting of the guardianship administration.

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