Frequently Asked Questions about Wills and Estate Planning in Pennsylvania

I’ve heard online forms are easy and cheap, why should I hire you?

The do-it-yourself sites online seem to be the budget savvy choice, but the documents produced may not protect your children, your assets, or even carry out your wishes. There is no interaction with a professional attorney and one simple mistake can cost a lot of money and years of headaches. I’ve had several clients come to me to review what they’ve prepared online. In every case, what they wanted was not what the document provided.

The act of sitting down with a lawyer and talking about a person’s relationships with their family members and reviewing a person’s affairs in preparation for writing a Will can turn up issues that were previously overlooked. The online or stationary store forms don’t catch those items and cannot flesh them out. And, in general, they tend to be one-size-fits-all documents, rarely taking into account specific issues.

How are you able to keep your fees so affordable?

I have a home office – my overhead is low. This allows me to provide the same professionally drafted legal documents that you may get at a bigger law firm with a fancy office but at a fraction of the price and more personal service. I’ve been practicing law for 30 years and, for me, it’s all about letting people know how important it is to have these documents. It is meaningful to me to be affordable to people of all income levels because I had a personal tragedy in my family that affected my loved ones greatly and having these documents on hand eased what was a very painful and emotional time of our lives.

What are some of the reasons people need Wills?

A Will allows you to dispose of your possessions and assets as you see fit – not according to the Commonwealth’s laws, called intestate succession. If you are a parent, a Will allows you to provide a guardian for minor children and a trustee, who will hold your assets in trust for your children until they reach a certain age; even that age can be dictated in a Will. It’s so vital that parents have this document, and even more so if you are a single parent. I am often called upon to write a Will for a parent who does not want to see the other parent get their hands on the child’s money after the former is gone.  Naming a trustee in the Will allows any money or property passing to the children from the decedent’s estate to pass to the trustee, keeping it away from the surviving parent.

Why do people need a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney allows someone you designate to act on your behalf to carry out your financial matters. The person basically steps in your shoes and signs your name to just about anything you can do, like sign checks, file income tax, sign the deed to your house. One of the main reasons to have a Durable Power of Attorney is to avoid court proceedings if you become incapacitated. If you don’t have a Power of Attorney, your relative or other loved ones will have to ask a judge to name someone to manage your financial affairs. These proceedings can be complicated, expensive and embarrassing. Your family has to ask the court to rule that you cannot take care of your own affairs – this is something most people consider a private matter that would now be aired in public.

Why do people need a Living Will?

A Living Will contains your specific wishes about life support and other medical treatment. It provides instructions which will take effect only when you cannot understand or communicate your treatment choices and you either have an end stage medical condition or are permanently unconscious. For example, you can say whether you want artificial hydration or nutrition (like a feeding tube). This takes the hard decision making away from your family since you have already decided what you want.  This can be a very specific document based on your wishes.

Having a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Living Will not only give you greater peace of mind, but the administration of your estate will be less complex, and your heirs will thank you. Being prepared can be the best gift you give your family.

Are you able to make house calls?

Sure; I’m happy to travel to a hospital, nursing home, retirement home, or private home if needed. I am available virtually or telephone as well if coming to my office is difficult.