You have worked all your life to provide for your family, and to put away a “nest egg” for retirement. And although we do not like to think about dying, death is an inevitable part of life. At Yorkway Law Group, our clients frequently ask us what they can do to ensure their families are taken care of when they die. The answer is simple – prepare a will as soon as possible.
Who Should Have a Will?
Modern advancements in medicine have made it possible for us to live longer than ever before. While these advancements have substantially extended our lives, such an extension may not be desirable because it may lower our quality of life and result in a loss of our dignity. Since all competent adults have the right to make their own medical decisions, you may want to tell your doctor now not to take heroic or extraordinary means to prolong your life in the future if you become ill and there is no hope for your eventual recovery. You can do this by preparing a living will.
A living will is a legal document in which you direct your doctor to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, whose only purpose is to prolong your dying process, if you are in an end-stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness.
You can prepare a living will if you are of sound mind and are at least 18 years of age, or have graduated from high school, or are married. You must sign your living will in the presence of two witnesses who are both at least 18 years of age.
You can refuse all medical treatment including but not limited to cardiac resuscitation, artificial feeding, blood, kidney dialysis, antibiotics, surgery, diagnostic tests, and mechanical respiration. You can, however, direct your doctor to administer only treatment that will keep you comfortable and alleviate your pain.
Also in your living will, you can designate another individual, known as your surrogate, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself.
Your living will becomes operative when you or another individual provides a copy of it to your doctor, and your doctor determines you to be incompetent and in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. At that time, your doctor has to act in accordance with the instructions outlined in your living will. If your doctor cannot in good conscious follow the instructions in your living will, your doctor must inform you or your surrogate of this fact. At that time, your doctor is required to assist you in finding another doctor who will comply with the instructions in your living will.
A living will lets you to decide now what medical treatment you want in the future if you become incompetent and are in an end-stage medical condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness. Failure to prepare a living will may cause increased stress on your loved ones who are left to decide the proper medical treatment for you.
The Last Will and Testament is a document that provides for the disposition of your assets upon your death. Your living will provides instruction to your family members and physicians regarding end of life decisions in the event you are incapacitated and you are in an end stage medical condition (terminal) or in a permanent coma.
Yes. Each document serves a different purpose. Your Living Will deals with end of life decision making and your Last Will and Testament controls the disposition of your probate assets after your death.
When Should You Make Your Will?
You never know what could happen in the future, so the best time to make your will is right now. If you die without a will, the court will distribute your assets according to Pennsylvania law, which may be contrary to your wishes. For example, if you are single and die leaving three children, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dictates that your assets shall pass to your children equally. However, you may not want your assets to pass equally to your children but instead may want one child to receive more assets than the other two children since he or she has fallen on hard times. Without a will, you cannot ensure that the child who needs your help gets most of your assets upon your death.
Steps To Create Your Will:
- Select an executor
- List the beneficiaries
- Designate your assets
- Have witnesses sign the will
- Store your will in safe place
How to Write a Will in Bucks County, PA
Speaking to an attorney is the first step. While death is inevitable, the transfer of your assets upon your death to your heirs does not have to be a nightmare. A will permits this process to proceed smoothly without adding stress on your loved ones when they are dealing with your loss. Contact the attorneys at Yorkway Law Group to speak with them regarding trusts, wills, and more in Montgomery & Bucks County PA.
Who Can I Appoint To Handle My Estate When I Die?
You can appoint your executor in your will. The executor is the person who is responsible for administering your estate after your death and ensures that your assets are distributed according to your will. If you do not have a will, the court will appoint one of your heirs to administer your estate. The appointed administrator may not be the person you would have chosen.
What If I Die Without A Will?
If you die without a will, the court will distribute your assets according to Pennsylvania law, which may be contrary to your wishes. For example, if you are single and die leaving three children, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dictates that your assets shall pass to your children equally. However, you may not want your assets to pass equally to your children, but instead may want one child to receive more assets than the other two children, since he or she has fallen on hard times. Without a will, you cannot ensure that the child who needs your help gets most of your assets upon your death.
Compassionate Wills Lawyer in Bucks County, PA
If you do not currently have a last will and testament, you must speak to an experienced PA wills lawyer right away. Wills are designed to ensure that your most treasured possessions go to the people you cared for in life, and if you don’t have one, the courts will decide how your assets are allocated. Don’t wait to write your will; the future is uncertain, so the time to start planning is today. With the right attorney advising you, the process will go smoothly and you will be able to rest easy knowing your loved ones will be provided for no matter what happens to you.
If you have been named as the executor of an estate, you should also speak to a wills lawyer in PA about how to execute a will. Executing wills can be a complex process and seeking out the advice of an attorney will help you ensure you are doing everything correctly. The attorneys at Yorkway Law Group have spent decades helping people write a will or execute the will of a loved one. Our team can also advise you about a range of other elder law matters including estate planning, Medicaid applications, trusts, and so much more. Get in touch with us today with all your questions about elder law, or schedule a consultation with an elder law attorney today.