When planning your estate, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is a power of attorney.
Bucks County, PA residents can use these documents to appoint another person – referred to here as their “agent” to act on their behalf if they become disabled or incapacitated.
Powers of attorney come in two varieties: financial – which lets the agent handle your finances, including paying bills and cashing checks – and health care, which enables the agent to make medical decisions for you.
Continue Reading Dealing with Sibling Disputes Over Powers of Attorney
What is an elder law attorney?
The dictionary definition of an “elder law attorney” is simple: an advocate for older people, and their loved ones.
But talk to Garrett Gummer, a longtime Bucks County elder law expert, and you’ll get a much more nuanced answer. It’s a role that covers everything from estate planning to will preparation to powers of attorney and healthcare powers of attorney to setting up trusts.
“If your parent or grandparent has to go into a nursing home, we help protect their nest egg,” he says. “There are ways to do that if you properly plan for it.
“If a loved one dies, we help you administer their estate if you’re appointed as the executor. Or if they haven’t done a proper power of attorney, sometimes it’s necessary for us to petition the court to have you or another family member appointed guardian.”
Continue Reading What is an Elder Law Attorney?
If your child has reached the teenage years, you may already feel as though you are losing control of her life. This is legally true once your child reaches the age of 18 because then the state considers your child to be an adult with the legal right to govern his or her own life.
Up until your child reaches 18, you are absolutely entitled to access your child’s medical records and to make decisions regarding the course of his treatment. And, your child’s financial affairs are your financial affairs. This changes once your child reaches the age of 18 because your now-adult child is legally entitled to his privacy and you no longer have the same level of access to or authority over his financial, educational and medical information.
As long as all is well, this can be fine. However, it’s important to plan for the unexpected and for your child to set up an estate plan, with the assistance of an estate planning attorney in Bucks County, that at least includes the following three crucial components:
Continue Reading Take These Three Steps When Your Child Turns 18
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to start planning immediately. There are several essential documents to help you once you become incapacitated, but if you don’t already have them in place you need to act quickly after a diagnosis. Consulting with an elder law attorney is an essential part of this process.
Having dementia does not mean that an individual is not mentally capable to make planning decisions. Simply having a form of mental illness or disease does not mean that you automatically lack the required mental capacity. As long as you have periods of lucidity, you may still be competent to sign planning documents.
Here are some essential documents for a person diagnosed with dementia:
Continue Reading Four Legal Steps to Take After an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
When you hear the word “retirement,” what do you picture yourself doing? Traveling the world? Catching up on all the books you were too busy to read? Spending time with your children and grandchildren?
Those are all fine, noble goals, and we want to see you achieve them. But first, there’s work to be done, and we’re not talking about your career. We’re talking about the financial and legal measures you need to take to plan for your future.
Here are five ways an elder law attorney can help you prepare for your later years.
Continue Reading 5 Steps to Help You Plan for Your Future
It is not uncommon for seniors to name one person in their financial power of attorney (POA) to handle their finances if they become incapacitated and to name someone else in their health care POA to handle their health care decisions.
Continue Reading Be Careful If Different People Handle Your Finances and Health Care
If someone has named you as an agent under a durable power of attorney, you will be allowed to handle that person’s finances. (The person who signs the power of attorney is known as the “principal”; you’ll be known as the agent or “attorney-in-fact.”) Here are answers to some questions you might have:
Continue Reading What You Need To Know If You Are An Agent Under A Power of Attorney
If you are in the hospital, you probably want certain family members and trusted friends to be able to get information about your condition or prognosis. You may need to plan ahead to ensure this happens.
Continue Reading Make Sure Your Loved Ones Can Get Your Medical Information
What’s the difference between guardianship and power of attorney?
Most of us do not want to look into the future and find that we are unable to care for ourselves, or manage our day-to-day affairs. However, planning for this possibility is a necessity you should seriously consider.
Preparation of a Power of Attorney is key in preparing for the possibility of your disability or incapacity. Several types of Power of Attorney are as follows:
General Durable Power of Attorney. This Power of Attorney is comprehensive and gives your agent all the powers and rights that you have yourself. For example, you can give your agent the right to sign legal documents, pay your bills, and conduct financial and healthcare matters on your behalf. This Power of Attorney continues in effect until you revoke it or you die. A Power of Attorney designated as “durable” remains effective after you become incapacitated or disabled. In Pennsylvania, all Powers of Attorney are durable unless specified otherwise in the document.
Healthcare Power of Attorney. This Power of Attorney, which is also usually durable, permits your agent to act on your behalf in all healthcare related matters if you become disabled or incapacitated.
Limited Power of Attorney. This Power of Attorney gives your agent the power to act on your behalf for a limited purpose. For example, if you are selling your home and cannot attend settlement, you could prepare a limited Power of Attorney authorizing your agent to sign the settlement documents on your behalf. The authority of the agent to act under a limited Power of Attorney usually ends at a specific time or upon the completion of a specific event, as set forth in the document.
Springing Power of Attorney. This Power of Attorney gives your agent the power to act in your behalf only when you become disabled or incapacitated. Unlike a General Durable Power of Attorney, your agent cannot act under this document solely for your convenience if you are not disabled or incapacitated. If you choose to prepare a Springing Power of Attorney, it is important that the trigger used to determine your disability and/or incapacity be set forth clearly in the document.
Continue Reading Power of Attorney VS Guardianship
Have you been officially asked to manage someone else’s money? For example, have you been named as an agent under a power of attorney or a trustee of a trust? As our society ages, more and more people are being asked to take on these roles, but they can be daunting.
In order to help, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published four free guides; under the general title Managing Someone Else’s Money. The guides are designed for (1) agents under a power of attorney, (2) court-appointed guardians, (3) trustees of a trust, and (4) people appointed to manage someone else’s government benefit checks, such as Social Security and Veterans.
Continue Reading Here’s Help for People Who Have to Manage Someone Else’s Money