Trusts, Estates & Wills
It is prudent to plan for the worst of times; create a plan in the event of death or incapacity.
Take advantage of the law to ensure your legacy is distributed according to your wishes. Our attorneys can devise estate and succession plans that accomplish your goals while managing probate and tax concerns.
WHAT IF YOU DIE WITHOUT HAVING A WILL?
In Pennsylvania, an “intestate succession” means your estate will be distributed in accordance with the provisions of a state statute. In other words, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will essentially dictate how and in what order your property is to be distributed at the time of your death.
To avoid this, create a will. Control the disposition of the property that you own outright in your individual name at the time of your death. Your will allows you to express who should receive your property. You may also include trust provisions in your will that leave gifts to children, grandchildren or other persons, and you may specify the times or purposes such gifts might be used, such as for their education, health care, maintenance or support. You may also name in your will the person you wish to serve as a Guardian of your minor children. Typically, your will appoints a spouse or close relative to serve as Executor for the administration of your estate. Your will can also express your preference for funeral arrangements.
THE DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
With a Durable Power of Attorney, you may appoint one or more persons to act as your agent to handle your important affairs while you are still living but no longer able to handle these matters on your own due to some physical or mental incapacity. The power granted to your agent can be as broad or limited as your personal preference and circumstances require, and may include the power to bank, invest and manage financial affairs; purchase, sell or lease real estate; and handle tax, insurance and retirement account matters. Your agent may also be given powers to manage and make decisions regarding your health care if you are unable to make them. If you fail to appoint an agent and later become incapacitated, the court may need to appoint a guardian for you. Not only might this be an expensive process, but you might not be pleased with the person the court appoints!
THE LIVING WILL
The Living Will allows you to express your wishes as to life sustaining treatment in the event you are incapacitated and diagnosed by your physician to be in a terminal condition. With the Living Will directives, you can designate a person to help make these important decisions regarding your care so that you can specify, in advance, whether or not you wish to receive aggressive and extraordinary medical procedures that will not restore your health, but will only prolong the natural process of dying. Expressing your intentions helps your physicians and family members act according to your wishes during a very stressful time.