End of life planning encompasses more than just a will or trust. If we are retained as your attorneys, we will help you prepare for a situation where you may be incapacitated. Our estate planning services include documents that are useful during your lifetime. The law gives significant flexibility in designating who you would like to make decisions on your behalf and courts are highly deferential to choices you have made during your lifetime. You have the ability to name who can act on your behalf (in all but very limited circumstances), who can make healthcare decisions for you, or who may be your guardian or your children’s guardian if the need arises. We will draft the documents necessary for you to make these decisions now when you have mental clarity and are able to think decisions through, instead of forcing the court make decisions for you based on their own personal preferences and beliefs.
There are several documents that can be prepared to allow a trusted person to manage your affairs on your behalf, while also preventing someone who may have unscrupulous motivation from taking advantage of you. One of these documents is a durable power of attorney which allows a person of your choosing, who is called your agent, to make financial decisions on your behalf. Using a durable power of attorney, your agent can access your bank accounts, file your taxes, collect social security benefits on your behalf, and do many other things for you when illness or advanced age prevents you from personally doing them. Your agent under your power of attorney has a lot of powers so it is important that you select someone you can trust.
Another document is a Healthcare Directive (also known as a healthcare surrogacy or a Health Care Power of Attorney) which lets you name the person you trust most to make your healthcare decisions. In addition, you can also create a “living will” that lets your end-stage medical decisions be known, so that your family and doctors are not faced with the difficult task of guessing what healthcare options and end-stage decisions you would choose to make. Finally, in certain states, such as in Florida, you can prepare a Designation of Pre-need Guardian that will make sure that no one but the person you choose will have control over you and your assets in the event that you need a guardian to be appointed.
To set up a free initial consultation to discuss your Lifetime Documents, contact our office by e-mail or for assistance in Pennsylvania and New York call our office at 215-568-4968, for assistance in New Jersey call our office at 609-523-2222, and for assistance in Florida, call our office at 727-538-4178. Evening and weekend meetings can be scheduled at your request.