In Pennsylvania, an estate planning attorney will commonly use the following documents to legally conclude a person’s life. In other words, consultation with an estate-planning attorney better prepares any and all loved ones for life after death. The repercussions of not seeking these services can have a negative impact on loved ones in a variety of ways.
Without the documents listed below, Pennsylvania intestacy law dictates a recently deceased person’s estate will be divided and distributed according to Pennsylvania law. The documents to help prevent that include:
A Durable Power of Attorney, which designates a person who will control the finances in the event it becomes necessary
A Health Care Power of Attorney, which names an agent to ensure decisions regarding end-of-life treatment are upheld
A Last Will and Testament, which designates a person an executor who will distribute all assets and property to the individuals specified
In most situations, the Pennsylvania laws of intestacy will not align with the person’s wishes and will be the opposite of the desired result.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is the legal document that provides another person the legal right to make certain decisions in the event of incapacitation. Exactly which decisions an individual can make on another person’s behalf is drawn by the boundaries of the legal document. This means that in some instances it is possible to make all financial and legal decisions or only one particular decision.
An Advance Directive is a legal health care document specifying the type of medical treatment you would want if the ability to make or communicate those decisions becomes impossible. Adults, individuals 18 years or older, can create advance directives that are legally binding in the state of Pennsylvania.
The advance directive identifies the person who can make medical decisions on your behalf, and communicate them to the doctors. An important document to attach to this advance directive should be the authorization to any doctor to share relevant medical information with the designated person, or else they might refuse to share this information in fear of being liable under HIPPA.
This ironic legal trap is another important reason why consulting with an estate planning attorney is important.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament seems like it would be the entire plan because the document basically designates the individuals who will receive specific items of property. Surprisingly, it is just one piece of the entire process. Like in most other states, a valid will in Pennsylvania is ineffective until after the person’s death. This means that decisions about life support, financial decisions, and more might remain pending for some time.
In addition, a will does not allow for avoidance of the probate process, where the will executor is authorized to pay any outstanding debts, followed by transfer of the funds to the people designated to inherit them. Though probate-avoidance is possible, and perhaps advisable given the saved time, money, and stress, it requires a more in-depth consultation with an estate planning attorney.
Ultimately, consultation with an attorney is important to prepare for one’s death. Little tips and tricks that they have gained from their experience in the field have better equipped them to legally anticipate any future hurdles that may arise depending on the specific circumstances of each person.
Contact us here for more information from Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law or to schedule a consultation in our office in Pittsburgh.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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