Philadelphia LivingWills Lawyer
Philadelphia Living Wills Lawyer
Estate planning laws encompass numerous terms and concepts, so it is not surprising that many people are confused by how a living will works. As defined by Pennsylvania statutes, a living will is a document that enables someone to express their wishes regarding end-of-life care when they are mentally incompetent or unconscious. Therefore, it is not a will at all based upon what you might know about estate planning. With a living will, you do not name an executor or provide instructions on how your assets should be distributed at your passing. Plus, a living will takes effect during your lifetime instead of post-death.
These are just a few of the reasons for the confusion behind living wills, but there are many others. Together, these misconceptions make it clear that this aspect of estate planning is one you should entrust to a skilled legal professional. At Scott Counsel, P.C., our team has in-depth knowledge of the laws and decades of combined experience guiding individuals through the estate planning journey. We are prepared to advise you, assist with the preparation of the proper documents, and guide you with follow-up tasks. Please contact our firm today to set up a consultation with a Philadelphia living wills lawyer. Some basics may also be informative.
Things to Know About Living Wills
An important first step is learning the requirements for creating a living will, since Pennsylvania law is specific on their creation. You must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, in the sense that you understand the implications of a living will and sign of your own free will. A living will be signed by you or someone at your direction, and two witnesses must be present to observe. Aside from these requirements, there are some additional points to note about living wills:
- The objective of a living will is to provide a legal way to express your wishes for medical care and treatment when you cannot communicate, understand, or make decisions due to incapacity.
- In your living will, you can include instructions on end-of-life care, such as if you have an end-stage terminal condition or are in an irreversible coma without a realistic hope for recovery.
- You can make statements concerning specific types of care if you are incapacitated. For instance, you might include information on pain medications, treatment options for purposes of comfort, and the use of life-sustaining equipment. It is also possible to address life-prolonging care concerning particular organs, and you can state your wishes on tube feedings for nutrition.
- A living will stand alone, but it is often used in conjunction with a health care power of attorney. With this document, termed an advance directive, you appoint an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. In your living will, you can state whether your agent MUST follow your instructions or whether the terms are for guidance. If you do not appoint a health care agent, the living will directions must be followed.
- After signing a living will, you should provide copies to your primary care physician, other treating doctors, family members, and others who might be involved with care. If you did name a health care agent, make sure he or she receives a copy.
With these points in mind, you should also understand what happens when you do NOT have a living will include in your estate plan. Without instructions and an expression of your intentions, your loved ones do not have guidance on what to do when you are unable to communicate. Worse, they may disagree on how to move forward, leaving you in a state of limbo. Litigation over whether or not to “pull the plug” is unfortunate, costly, and time-consuming.
Comparing Living Wills to Other Estate Planning Options
As mentioned, a living will is not an actual will in the truest sense. However, it is useful to understand how a living will work with other components of your estate plan.
Health Care Power of Attorney: A living will is effective without additional documentation, but it may make practical sense to also prepare a health care power of attorney described in #4 above. By appointing an agent, you have someone who can step into your shoes to:
- Withhold or authorize certain procedures;
- Apply for public benefits;
- Hire caregivers;
- Work with nursing homes and assisted living facilities for long-term care; and
- Manage other health-related needs.
Living Trusts: The term “living” is just about the only thing living wills and living trusts have in common. With a living trust, you transfer assets into the trust to separate them from what you own as an individual. There are advantages for privacy, asset protection, avoiding probate, and others. Your living will is dedicated to the specific topic of end-of-life treatment.
Legal Help with Creating a Living Will in Pennsylvania
Our Philadelphia living wills attorneys at Scott Counsel, P.C. are committed to making sure your intentions are what drives your end-of-life care. We are ready to assist by:
- Learning more about your goals and family situation;
- Explaining additional details about living wills based upon your unique circumstances;
- Advising you on the different sections of a living will and how they function; and
- Make the arrangements to execute your living will, including notarization as recommended (though not required).
In addition, our team will consult with you regarding a health care power of attorney, being so closely related to a living will. We can guide you in determining who should act as an agent, providing instructions, and other important terms.
Discuss Details with a Philadelphia Living Wills Lawyer
As you can see, no plan would be complete without a living will that allows you to communicate your intentions about end-of-life care when you are unable to do so. To learn more about our legal services, please contact Scott Counsel, P.C. You can schedule a consultation with a Pennsylvania living wills attorney by calling (856) 485-4585 or going online. After reviewing your situation and advising you on estate planning options, we can move on to the next steps.
– When my son, who has Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes, was suddenly and unexpectedly removed from his Medicaid program, we were devastated and frightened not knowing where we would get the resources to pay for his extremely high priced prescriptions. Justin was the attorney who handled our case. From the very beginning, he proved to be very thorough and experienced with navigating the process of reversing the Medicaid decision. However, it was his apparent kind, caring nature that made us feel the most at ease. Justin was successful in securing a continuation of benefits for my son, and we are extremely grateful for having his expertise during this most stressful ongoing process. Thank you, Justin!
VIRTUAL visits now available
With your health and safety as our number one priority, we are implementing new ways to help you