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Secure Your Future with Keystone Elder Law
When it comes to estate planning, many people tend to put off the conversation until it becomes an urgent matter. Unfortunately, waiting until a crisis occurs often leaves individuals with limited options. That’s why taking proactive steps and reaching out to an experienced Mechanicsburg estate planning attorney is crucial.
At Keystone Elder Law, P.C., we proudly serve clients throughout South Central Pennsylvania, providing essential guidance in preparing a comprehensive estate plan. Our dedicated team understands that planning for the future can be daunting. That’s why we strive to offer skilled and compassionate legal advice that takes into account your family’s unique story.
Estate Planning Goes Beyond a Will
While a will is a fundamental component of estate planning, it represents just a fraction of the entire process. True estate planning encompasses preparing for potential incapacity during your lifetime, ensuring your finances and medical care are handled according to your wishes.
Keystone Elder Law, P.C. can assist you in creating the following essential estate planning documents:
- General Power of Attorney: A legal document appointing someone as your agent to handle financial and business matters on your behalf. With a General Power of Attorney, you can provide instructions to enable your agent to act in the event of your disability or incapacity.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: Similar to a General Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney designates an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your preferences. It can also include a Living Will, outlining your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatments in an end-of-life situation.
- Last Will and Testament: A will serves multiple purposes. It designates a personal representative to manage your property after your passing and provides instructions for distributing your assets. Additionally, if you have minor children, a will allows you to name a legal guardian in the event that both parents are unable to fulfill that role.
- Trust: Establishing a trust can be beneficial in various estate planning scenarios. Assets placed in a trust do not go through the probate process outlined in your will. Coordinating your will and any trusts is essential to ensure they align harmoniously.
The Consequences of Not Having an Estate Plan
If you pass away without an estate plan, the state’s laws will determine how your assets are distributed. This means that your property might not go to the people you would have chosen. Your loved ones could face unnecessary legal challenges and delays. Without an estate plan, there’s also no one appointed to take care of your minor children or manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. By omitting an estate plan, you are essentially leaving these crucial decisions up to courts and state laws.
Keeping Your Estate Plan Current
Your estate plan is not a static document; it should evolve as your life does. Major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary are all reasons to review your plan. Additionally, changes in the law or significant shifts in your financial situation are important triggers for an update. As a general guideline, reviewing your estate plan every three to five years, or any time you experience a major life event, can ensure that it always reflects your current wishes and circumstances. Consulting with a local Mechanicsburg Estate Planning Attorney can provide you with the expertise needed to keep your plan up-to-date.
Estate Planning and Tax Savings
Effective estate planning can potentially reduce the taxes your estate may owe upon your death. Strategies such as structuring inheritances in certain types of trusts, making charitable contributions, or gifting assets during your lifetime can help. Utilizing these strategies effectively can ensure that by minimizing the tax burden, more of your assets can be preserved for your beneficiaries. It is important to work with an estate planning lawyer who can guide you through the complexities of tax laws and recommend strategies tailored to your specific situation.
Understanding Trusts in Estate Planning
A trust is a legal entity that holds assets for the benefit of certain other persons or entities. It can give you greater privacy and control over how your assets are distributed after you pass away; stipulating the terms under which beneficiaries receive your assets, protecting your estate from creditors, and avoiding the public process of probate. It can also reduce estate taxes. Whether you need a trust depends on your personal goals and financial situation, and an estate planning attorney can help you make this decision.
Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney
Estate laws are complex and frequently updated. In addition, many inheritance laws and tax implications are state-specific, while procedures regarding the probate process vary by county. A local Mechanicsburg Estate Planning Attorney offers crucial expertise for devising an estate plan that addresses the specific requirements of state and local statutes. The internet is full of standardized forms and instructions for estate planning. But these come with no guarantees. Enlist an experienced local estate planner from our team at Keystone Elder Law P.C. to provide a comprehensive and legally sound plan for your estate – one that safeguards your assets and ensures they are distributed in accordance with your intentions.
Consult with a Trusted Mechanicsburg Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning should not be viewed as a burdensome chore. However, it does involve legal processes that must adhere to specific formalities. Our knowledgeable Mechanicsburg estate planning lawyers are here to guide you through each step, ensuring your final documents accurately reflect your wishes.
Take control of your future by contacting Keystone Elder Law, P.C. today to schedule an initial consultation. Our team is committed to helping you navigate the complexities of estate planning with confidence and peace of mind.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney can be used to give another person the right to sell a car, home, or other property in the place of the maker of the Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney might be used to allow another person to sign a contract for the maker of the Power of Attorney (the person who makes a power of attorney is called the “principal”). It can be used to give another person the authority to make health care decisions, do financial transactions, or sign legal documents that the principal cannot do for one reason or another. With few exceptions, Powers of Attorney can give others the right to do any legal acts that the makers of the Powers of Attorney could do them themselves. A General Power of Attorney gives the “power of attorney Agent” or simply “Agent” (the legal name of the person who is authorized to act for the principal) very broad powers to do almost every legal act that the principal can do. When Elder Law Attorneys draft general Powers of Attorney, they still list the types of things the Agent can do but these powers are very broad. People often do general Powers of Attorney to plan ahead for the day when they may not be able to take care of things themselves. By doing the General Power of Attorney, they designate someone who can do these things for them.
Normal Powers of Attorney terminate if and when the principal becomes incompetent. Yet many people do Powers of Attorney for the sole purpose of designating someone else to act for them if they cannot act for themselves. It is precisely when persons can no longer do for themselves that a Power of Attorney is most valuable. To remedy this inconsistency, the law created a Durable Power of Attorney that remains effective even if a person becomes incompetent. The only thing that distinguishes a Durable Power of Attorney from a regular Power of Attorney is special wording that states that the power survives the principal’s incapacity. Even a Durable Power of Attorney, however, may be terminated under certain circumstances if court proceedings are filed. Most Powers of Attorney done today are durable.
Yes. At the time the Power of Attorney is signed, the principal must be capable of understanding the document. Although a Power of Attorney is still valid if and when a person becomes incompetent, the principal must understand what he or she is signing at the moment of execution. That means a person can be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease or be otherwise incompetent sometimes but as long as they have a lucid moment and are competent at the moment they sign the Power of Attorney, it is valid even if they do not remember signing it at a later date. At the time it is signed, the principal must know what the Power of Attorney does, whom they are giving the Power of Attorney to, and what property may be affected by the Power of Attorney.
Any competent person eighteen years of age and older can serve as an agent. Certain financial institutions can also serve. There is no course of education that agent must complete or any test that Agent must pass. Because a Power of Attorney is such a potentially powerful document, agents should be chosen for reliability and trustworthiness. In the wrong hands, a Power of Attorney can be a license to steal. It can be a big responsibility to serve as an agent.
Medicare is health insurance and covers medical services such as physician appointments, therapy, blood tests, x rays, medical procedures and hospitalization. Medicare will sometime pay for rehabilitation in a long-term care facility for a period of 20 to 100 days, but not longer. In long-term care, Medicaid covers the cost of ongoing support services for daily functioning, such as room and board in a nursing home.
Medicaid is a federal program that is overseen by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In Pennsylvania, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance and is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
In Pennsylvania, Medicaid funds are not available to pay for assisted living or personal care.
For Medicaid to pay for care in a nursing home, an individual recipient must be determined to need a nursing home level of care by a physician and the local Office of Aging. An individual whose income is not greater than three times the poverty level may keep up to $8,000 of total resources, but may otherwise keep only $2,400. The cash value of life insurance counts as a resource, but one car and a residential home does not count as a resource.