Rich or poor, everyone needs to designate a person to manage assets or make medical decisions in case of incapacity. No matter what your age, you could become ill or have an accident. If you were unable to pay your bills or decide which medical treatment to receive, who would have that power? Working through that decision and then signing a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney is the bare minimum estate planning everyone should accomplish.
Beyond the Durable General Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney to address matters during your lifetime, an estate plan should also address what should happen to your assets if you die. If your estate is small and you have no children, this could be a simple will. But, if you have minor children, a simple will does not answer the question of who will manage the assets for your minor children. If your estate is larger, there is also the possibility of using techniques that reduce the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax and provide asset protection shelter to your heirs. All of this is possible in a well drafted Will.
Without a plan, all these decisions are left to the courts. Though the Montgomery County Orphans’ Court judges are excellent, they may not decide matters the way you would have. Further, the judges are limited by the Pennsylvania Rules of Intestacy, and even if it is clear that you wished for assets to pass at your death to charities, friends or even children, the judge’s hands might be tied and these people might receive nothing. The only way for your true wishes to be carried out is for you to complete a Will, Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney where you name your Agent, Surrogate and Executor and spell out exactly your intentions.
Having an estate is for everyone! Make sure that your wishes are carried out.
Wills, Trusts and Estates, It’s All We Do!