Sound estate planning today can spare your loved ones significant time and worry in the future. When you implement a solid estate plan, your loved ones can be spared from the costly disputes that can arise due to ambiguity in estate planning documents.
Estate planning also allows you to place decision-making authority over your finances and medical care in the hands of trusted loved ones.
We handle a broad spectrum of estate planning, trust and probate matters for clients in Pennsylvania. Our clients have diverse legal needs, and we tailor the services we provide to meet them. Our focus is on achieving the best possible results even when matters are complex or emotionally challenging. Our estate planning practice includes the areas listed below:
A will is an important estate planning document that can perform a number of important functions, including:
Transferring assets and property to designated heirs
Naming guardians for your minor children
Designating a personal representative for your estate
Naming a custodian to manage property for minor children
Specifying funeral arrangements
A will should be unique to you and your future goals and wishes. Whether you are just starting a family and beginning to build wealth, or have significant assets and numerous heirs, your estate planning needs are specific to you alone. At Ramsay undefined Ramsay, we customize wills to achieve our clients’ unique estate planning objectives.
While there are a number of different trusts, in general they let you maintain control of your assets while you are alive, and name a representative to manage your assets and affairs in the event of incapacity or after you pass away.
An advance health care directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision, is a set of written instructions that a person gives that specify what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. The instruction appoints someone, usually called an agent, to make such decisions on their behalf. A living will is one form of advance directive, leaving instructions for treatment. Another form authorizes a specific type of power of attorney or health care proxy, where someone is appointed by the individual to make decisions on their behalf when they are incapacitated. People may also have a combination of both. People are often encouraged to complete both documents to provide comprehensive guidance regarding their care.
Powers of attorney are routinely granted to allow the agent to take care of a variety of transactions for the principal, such as executing a stock power, handling a tax audit, or maintaining a safe-deposit box. Powers of attorney can be written to be either general (full) or limited to special circumstances. A power of attorney generally is terminated when the principal dies or becomes incompetent, but the principal can revoke the power of attorney at any time.
A special type of power of attorney that is used frequently is the ‘durable’ power of attorney. A durable power of attorney differs from a traditional power of attorney in that it continues the agency relationship beyond the incapacity of the principal. The two types of durable power of attorney are immediate and ‘springing.’ The first type takes effect as soon as the durable power of attorney is executed. The second is intended to ‘spring’ into effect when a specific event occurs, such as the disability of the principal. Most often, durable powers of attorney are created to deal with decisions involving either property management or health care.
Durable powers of attorney have become popular because they enable the principal to have her or his affairs handled easily and inexpensively after she or he has become incapacitated. Before the durable power of attorney was created, the only way to handle the affairs of an incapacitated person was to appoint a guardian, a process that frequently involves complex and costly court proceedings, as well as the often humiliating determination that the principal is wholly incapable and in need of protection.
With a durable power of attorney, on the other hand, a principal can appoint someone to handle her or his affairs after she or he becomes incompetent, and the document can be crafted to confer either general power or power in certain limited circumstances. Because no judicial proceedings are necessary, the principal saves time and money and avoids the stigma of being declared incompetent. Insel, Michael S. 1995. ‘Durable Power Can Alleviate Effects of Client’s Incapacity.’ Estate Planning 22 (February); Rains, Ramona C. 1996. ‘Planning Tools Available to the Elderly Client.’ American Journal of Trial Advocacy 19 (spring).