An estate plan is beneficial to both you and your loved ones because it allows you to declare your choices for the distribution of your estate and dictate your care. In Pennsylvania, there are a few essential estate planning documents that you should consider including that will fully encompass all of your wishes for your end of life care and estate administration. Speaking with an attorney in your area can help you properly draft and file all of the relevant documentation for your estate plan in Pennsylvania, so consider making an appointment today.
Last Will and Testament
A final will and testament dictates how you would like your estate to be distributed after your passing. This can be in addition to trusts and other estate planning instruments that distribute your estate to heirs and beneficiaries. Anyone who dies without a will in Pennsylvania is considered intestate, and their estate will be distributed according to state law and not their individual wishes. A last will and testament also allows you to name an executor of your estate, who will serve as administrator and ensure that the estate is distributed properly.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney document designates another person to make legal decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. A power of attorney allows a person to serve as an agent for legal and financial matters in situations of disability, dementia, or other circumstances that leave you unable to communicate your wishes on your own. This can be as simple as paying bills or as complex as making investment decisions on your behalf. The person named in a power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests in all matters.
A living will is a document that lists all of the medical procedures and treatments you do and do not approve of for your care. This can include a Do Not Resuscitate form, lists of acceptable surgeries, medications, life support, and more. A living will is also utilized in situations in which you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate your treatment wishes to a medical professional about your care.
A healthcare proxy is similar to a power of attorney, except that the healthcare proxy is given the power to make decisions about your medical care. This person can be the same or different than the person named in a power of attorney form and is usually a close family member or trusted friend. If you also have a living will, the healthcare proxy is bound by the living will to only make decisions that comport with your wishes. A healthcare proxy is only used in medical situations in which you cannot tell healthcare professionals your decisions regarding your care due to incapacitation, dementia, disability, unconsciousness, or other issue.
Talk to a Lawyer Today
If you wish to create an estate plan or would like to know more about the essential estate planning documents in Pennsylvania, call or contact the Martin Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.