Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Legal Topic#2: How To Prevent Losing Your Money If you Become Ill.

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

Clients ask me what will happen if they, or their parents, become too ill to handle their investments and pay their bills. Should they add the names of relatives or friends to their accounts and hope for the best? Should they give verbal permission to someone else to sign checks? What happens to their money if their illness becomes permanent?

These are legitimate concerns, especially in the midst of an economy where it has become increasingly more difficult to make ends meet.

The answer is to have a properly prepared, duly witnessed and notarized Durable Power of Attorney (POA). “Durable”? What does that mean?

The new changes in Pennsylvania law, as in many other states, encourage such powers to be given in such a way that they do not expire in a given period of time or after a specified illness. The POA remains in effect until it is revoked by the person granting it. This enables the holder of the POA to continue helping pay bills for medical expenses, utilities, taxes, and other essential services.

Now, by law, there is a required notice that must be given to the grantor of the POA explaining, in specific terms, the powers that are being given to the person chosen to  serve as an agent. The POA document itself is lengthy and contains many specifics that have evolved from generations of litigation. In addition, the recipient must sign a notarized oath acknowledging receipt of their responsibilities and duties.

Signed copies of this document are given to financial institutions, advisors, and health providers as the sole legal authority for anyone to act on the grantor’s behalf. I like to think of it as the ultimate, protection document for my client’s money.

For more information, please submit questions and comments to the “comment” page above or email, (215-527-5635).

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Legal Topic #1: Living Like a Vegetable

As the famous Yogi Berra once said, “I don’t remember leaving so I guess we didn’t go.”

 My clients constantly express concern about what will happen to their, or their parents’, health care, finances and life savings should they become incompetent. Frequently, I hear them say, “I’m not afraid of dying as much as I am fearful of living like a vegetable during my old age.”

How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from having to be in such a permanent state of mental disablility? The answer is to have a properly drafted, executed and witnessed Living Will.

Keeping in mind that most states have specific laws governing the content of Living Wills, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

* How does a Living Will work? It is the written expression of a person’s desired treatment, or refusal of treatment, in the event that he or she should become terminally ill and lacking the mental capacity to make medical treatment decisions. Just as a Last Will and Testament names an executor to carry our wishes after death, the Living Will names a surrogate to make medical decisions in cooperation with the health care entity. This may include deciding to remove life sustaining applications that do nothing but prolong the life of a dying person and administering only medication for the purpose of eliminating pain.

* Can’t I just tell my spouse, child or physician what to do? Most physicians are sworn to take all measures to keep the patient alive. Furthermore, to guard against the patient being exploited by others for personal gain, such wishes must be in writing and follow a prescribed format.

* What treatment options may I demand or reject? All, none, or a combination of treatment options. For example, a person may reject all forms of life sustaining treatment except those that prevent pain and suffering during the dying process.

* How do I proceed? Consult an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. it is best to seek out one who has been recommended by a friend or relative.



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