What are the four main pillars of estate planning?

On behalf of Scaringi Law posted in Estate Planning on Saturday, November 14, 2015.

We've previously posted in this blog about the importance of including durable powers of attorney for health care in an individual's estate plan. According to a recent article, elderly individuals should take particular heed of this advice.

For example, estate planning should anticipate the possibility of incapacity brought on by accidents, illnesses, advanced age, or conditions such as Alzheimer's. An individual planning for this contingency might include authorization forms that allow one's attorney to contact other advisors and/or a designated emergency contact.

Our law firm has helped many individuals create not only a will and one or more trusts, but also the legal documents that indicate the kind of care they might want to accept or decline in the event of incapacity. One such document is a living will, which should not be confused with a living trust or a conventional will, both of which govern property designations. The flexibility of a living will is that it can include as much or little about an individual's health care preferences as he or she chooses.

A power of attorney for health care is also flexible in that it can be revised at any time. In fact, Pennsylvania law has two different powers of attorney. A general power of attorney designates someone to make only financial and non-medical decisions, whereas a health care power of attorney empowers an individual to make health care decisions while someone is alive but incapacitated. Our firm's approach to estate planning covers all four of these items: a will, a living will, a general power of attorney and a health care power of attorney.

Source: Life Health Pro, "Estate planning for elderly clients," Ed McCarthy, October 30, 2015

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