Estate Planning

Your “estate” is made up of the real and personal property that you have obtained during your life such as your home, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, jewelry, and numerous other possessions. Who should receive these items when you pass on? Who should manage them if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes? How much will be lost to creditors or taxes if you do not plan? How can you prevent family disputes over your estate?

Proper estate planning can resolve all of these concerns, but it is important to plan early. An estate plan may include various strategies, but most contain the following:

A WILL handles the distribution of your estate and advises family and friends of your wishes once you have passed on. A will appoints someone you trust to manage your assets and is your final word regarding your estate. Since, it has no effect until your death other planning measures should be taken. Your will is the “safety net” of your estate plan.

A DURABLE FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY appoints someone to assist you with financial issues during your lifetime. It is the most important estate planning document to have as it allows you to arrange your affairs through someone else should you become unable to communicate your wishes. Because of this, you can plan and organize your estate even in the event of severe illness, disability or incapacity. Also, it can eliminate the need for guardian and conservator court proceedings which can be expensive, time-consuming and embarrassing. The durable financial power of attorney is only effective during your lifetime.

The HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY designates someone you trust to make medical decisions for you under certain circumstances. It is often designed to go into effect only if you are deemed incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This medical opinion must be given by your own doctor as well as another physician. The health care power of attorney allows you to receive the medical care you want while avoiding medical procedures you may not want even if you cannot tell your doctors yourself. It is often used along with an advanced medical directive.

An ADVANCED MEDICAL DIRECTIVE clearly states what type of life-sustaining measures an individual wants and does not want in the event of a terminal condition. In the event of your incapacitation, the advanced medical directive communicates your wishes in regards to various forms of life support. It is often used with a health care power of attorney.

These documents provide a good foundation for an estate plan. However, more advanced techniques are needed to prevent creditor claims or eliminate the expense of probate altogether.

  • Living Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts can eliminate the need for probate after your death while providing management of your assets during your lifetime.
  • Special Needs Trusts for individuals receiving disability benefits.
  • Life Estate Deeds allow you to live in and use your home while avoiding the need for and expense of probate.

Most of these estate planning tools are also useful for Nursing Home Planning.

We serve West Virginia from our Weirton and Morgantown locations, and Pennsylvania from our Pittsburgh office located in the Robinson area.

Call us at 877-748-3234 to speak with an attorney and schedule an appointment.