Our End of Life Planning Attorneys assist clients throughout Easton, Allentown & Bethlehem
End of life planning is not easy. Whether you are planning for your own death, the death of a loved one or assisted a loved one in this planning, this is a difficult time. Our end of life planning attorneys are here to assist you in these difficult times.
Whether you are planning well in advance of any passing or have been diagnosed with a fast moving terminal illness, end of life planning can help put your mind at ease and assist your loved ones through the troubling times ahead. We will give a brief overview of things to consider below in as straight forward a way as possible.
Most things can and should be planned for well in advance of the probability of death. Other things, however, cannot be planned for until the planner has reached certain milestones in life. For example, it is advisable for everyone to create a will, power of attorney and living will immediately. However, planning for long term care may not make financial sense to many until they have reached their 60s. Finally, maximizing credit cannot be planned for unless and until a terminal illness is diagnosed.
Wills, Power of Attorney and Living Wills are advisable to create at any age and at anytime as life is uncertain. A Last Will & Testament not only allows you to distribute your property as you see fit but also greatly reduces the burden and costs to your surviving loved ones.
A Power of Attorney allows trusted loved ones to act on your behalf, financially, whether you are incapacitated or not. However, a Power of Attorney must be created while you still have sufficient mental capacity and is therefore advisable to have created immediately.
A Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney or Advance Medical Directive, allows you to dictate medical decisions in advance of any debilitating medical condition where you cannot make your own decisions. Not only does a Living Will allows you to make your own decisions regarding how your body is treated, it allows you to spare your loved ones from second guessing the decisions they would otherwise be forced to make on your behalf.
Unfortunately, many of us may require long term care or expensive medical treatments near the end of our lives. These expenses can easily exceed $11,000 per month and many insurance carriers provide limited coverage. Fortunately, federal medicaid covers these expenses if one is eligible for medicaid coverage.
There are many ways an individual can move or restructure assets to become eligible for medicaid coverage. However, there is a “medicaid lookback period” of five (5) years in Pennsylvania. This means that assets not appropriately accounted for at least five (5) years prior to medicaid payouts will be seized by the government. In many cases, this applies even to assets gifted or sold to loved ones.
Planning for an impending death is perhaps the most difficult of all end of life planning. While a last will, power of attorney and living will can all be created, if not already done so, it is already too late to properly plan for medical expenses at this point.
However, in addition to preplanning a funeral and burial, a number of steps can be taken to assist yourself and your loved ones financially. While medicaid can seize property to pay for medical expenses, even if already transferred, credit card debt can only be collected from assets, individually owned, at the time of death. While credit card may be collectable from an estate, it is not collectable if the person who has passed away was married and all property is jointly owned.
Power of Attorney
Limited Power of Attorney
Durable Power of Attorney
Advance Medical Directive
Last Will & Testament
Medical Power of Attorney
In a Power of Attorney of Living Will, the Principal is the person who is assigning someone else to make decisions for them and the Agent is the person assigned to make those decisions.
We recommend choosing someone who trust generally but someone you also trust to be able make good, educated, decisions regarding your belongings.
An executor is the person who is assigned by you to carry out your wishes in your Last Will & Testament. The executor can be compensated out of your estate or can be asked to perform his or her duties for free.
Generally you should choose someone you trust as an executor. You may also wish to choose someone whom you expect to outlive you. Ideally, your executor will also not be receiving any of your estate but it is not always feasible to choose an executor who is not also included in the will.
This is a common fear and perhaps the primary reason for drafting a Last Will & Testament in the first place. We often encourage clients to add a “no contest clause” to their Will in order to address this concern. Under a “no contest clause,” if a beneficiary of your will claims that they are entitled to more than what you have set out for them, and they are unsuccessful in their case, they will forfeit whatever portion of the estate you had left for them.