Specializing in Wills, Power of Attorney, and Medical Directives in Pittsburgh
Building an estate plan is a critical part of planning for your future. No matter your age or circumstances, every adult should take the time to consider what will happen once you are gone or unable to communicate.
Our Pittsburgh will lawyer and CPA can help you draft and finalize many types of essential estate planning documents. We can assist you with your last will and testament, powers of attorney authorizations, advance medical directives, and more. Our Pittsburgh attorneys at the Mt. Jackson Group takes a “big picture” approach to estate planning and can help you implement tools that will protect yourself, your loved ones, your assets, and your legacy. We are dedicated to helping you prepare for the future and will work to provide you with the peace of mind you deserve.
Your last will and testament will form the foundation of your estate plan. If you pass away without a valid will in place, your estate will be subject to your state's intestacy laws. This means that you will have no say in how your assets are distributed or who will take care of your minor children. Property will be commensurately divided and distributed amongst your most immediate surviving relatives.
Your will allows you to:
- Name beneficiaries to your assets
- Choose a guardian for your minor children
- Appoint a personal representative to manage and close your estate
It is also important to understand the limitations of your will. Its contents will be a matter of public record when it is entered into probate. If you owe significant debts, portions of your estate may be liquidated to settle your obligations. This can jeopardize planned inheritances. Interested parties also may contest the authenticity of your will.
You will have no control over when or how assets are distributed to your chosen beneficiaries. The distribution of assets will be handled by your chosen personal representative at the conclusion of the probate process.
In most cases, it is advisable to pair a will with one or more trusts. Trusts are fiduciary arrangements where a trustee oversees the trust’s contents for chosen beneficiaries. In other words, trusts can facilitate asset distribution and inheritances once you are gone and therefore accomplish many of the same functions as your will. Unlike wills, trusts are private and are not generally subject to probate. They also allow for increased customization and flexibility.
Your will can be used to manage any assets that are not placed in your trusts at the time of your passing. Our Pittsburgh will attorney and CPA can help you explore your options and implement a plan that protects your property and loved ones.
In order for a will to be considered valid and enforceable, it must be properly validated. Pennsylvania accepts both handwritten and typewritten wills, but the document must be physical. Digital files will not be accepted.
You will need to physically sign your will to finalize it. You can only finalize a will if you are at least 18 years old and are of “sound mind” at the time of signing. This means that you cannot finalize your will if you are considered to be mentally incompetent. You must have a full understanding of what you are doing when signing the document.
If you wish to update your will in the future (and it is advisable to do so as your circumstances change), you have several options. While codicils allow you to make small adjustments to an existing will, it is often easier to revoke your current will and replace it with an entirely new one. We can assist you with this process and ensure your will reflects your current wishes.
ProtectiveOur approach is to maximize your assets and provide long-term financial well-being for the next generation of your family.
SupportiveNo matter how small you think your assets are, we will provide maximization strategies and support you every step of the way.
ProactiveWe encourage clients to start the estate planning process as soon as possible in order to take full advantage of the long term benefits.
Consider what would happen if you got into an accident and were suddenly unable to communicate. Who would pay your bills or make decisions about your medical care?
In appointing a springing power of attorney, you authorize someone to act on your behalf in a situation where you become incapacitated. Your agent should be someone you trust to capably serve as your advocate and manage your affairs.
In drafting powers of attorney documents, you will decide how much power authority you wish to give your agent. You may only want your agent to manage your immediate needs or complete specific tasks. You may also choose to provide your agent with broad powers to manage investments and business interests. The extent of their decision-making abilities is up to you.
To authorize a power of attorney agent, the appropriate documentation must be signed, witnessed, and notarized. We can help you draft powers of attorney authorizations and assist you with the validation process.
If you are hospitalized as a result of serious accident or illness, you may not be able to physically communicate. In these situations, your medical providers will rely on your medical power of attorney (if you have appointed one) and your advance medical directives when deciding how to proceed.
Advance medical directives allow you to dictate what types of care you wish to receive or not receive. Many use these directives to specify whether they wish to be resuscitated, whether they wish to be given certain types of medications, and whether they wish to authorize experimental life-saving surgery. Medical directives can also provide instructions for end-of-life care and a list of preferred medical providers. It is often wise to pair your medical directives with a medical power of attorney that can help communicate and enforce them.
You should not put off planning for incapacity. Our Pittsburgh will lawyer and CPA at the Mt. Jackson Group is ready to help you build an estate plan that will protect you throughout your lifetime.