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Estate planning can help simplify and organize your finances

Many of our previous posts here have pointed out how estate planning can help Pennsylvania residents get piece of mind when they make a plan for how their assets will be distributed to their family members and close friends upon death. However, there are many different "in life" benefits to estate planning as well. For example, power of attorney documents are part of an estate plan, and these documents appoint an individual to make decisions for the planner in life if the planner is unable to make those decisions.

Another important benefit that comes with estate planning is that the process usually forces people to take an extremely close look at their overall financial picture and make certain moves for the benefit of themselves and others. This type of forced organization can help Pennsylvania residents who go through the estate planning process get a firm grip on their financial status, which can benefit them by allowing them to increase their assets according to a plan.

Planning tips for your parents’ elder care needs

Understandably, it’s not the most pleasant conversation to have. When your parent or parents are approaching an advanced age, or dealing with a medical condition that’s diminishing their faculties, it’s necessary to make a plan for elder care. While the topic may seem unpleasant, it’s crucial to ensuring that your parents have the late-in-life care they deserve.

Planning for elder care can add unnecessary stress if it’s done hastily. You want to be prepared and thorough in order to achieve the most comfortable result possible for your parents. As this may be a stressful time, it’s important to exercise clear judgment to make the best decisions for your family.

The elderly or those with special needs may need guardianship

Guardianships may be needed by the elderly or those with special needs. It can be difficult to watch the ones we love struggle to complete even the most basics tasks in life. However, when older relatives or relatives with special needs are facing difficulties, the law provides an avenue to help them - guardianships.

Guardianships can be established by the Orphans' Court so that a competent person can make important decisions on behalf of those who are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. The decisions may be related to financial or personal matters. For elderly individuals, the decisions may be related to placing the elderly individual in a nursing home so that they can receive the specialized attention they need. For those with special needs, it may involve a move to a different type of residential facility, one that can provide intense, one-on-one attention.

Pennsylvania expanding coverage for in-home nursing care

We all know that nursing homes can be expensive. Even way back in the good old days of 2012, the median cost of a private room in a nursing home was nearly $100,000 per year. However, in 2018, there may be some relief for seniors wishing to stay in their homes and avoid nursing home care.

Beginning with 14 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania—Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland—the new Community HealthChoices (CHC) initiative will roll out in January 2018. Committed to increasing opportunities for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities to remain in their homes, Community HealthChoices will coordinate health care coverage to improve the quality of health care. The initiative will roll out to Philadelphia and its four surrounding counties in 2019, and the remaining 48 counties across central and northern Pennsylvania will be in 2020.

What is an "estate?"

Many of our previous posts here have addressed some of the most important topics regarding estate planning in Pennsylvania. But, some people may start the estate planning process with the most logical starting point: What, exactly, is an "estate?"

When most people think of the word "estate," they probably either think of a large piece of property with a mansion on it, or the accumulated wealth of a "rich" person or family. While those images might not be, technically speaking, wrong, when it comes to estate planning the word has a slightly simpler meaning. In short, an "estate" comprises the assets, funds and debts that people leave behind when they die.

Making a plan that includes Medicaid eligibility

With all of the changes that we hear about from our leaders in Washington, D.C., it is possible that some Pennsylvania residents may be concerned that their eligibility for federal programs could be impacted sometime in the near future. However, our readers probably know by now that it takes quite a bit of political will to make changes to many major programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, it is probably wise to plan as if these programs will stay as they are for the foreseeable future.

For many Pennsylvania residents, that means making a financial plan that includes Medicaid eligibility. For some people, this could require coordination with a spouse's assets in order to ensure eligibility. For others, changes may be required to an estate plan, including previous plans for long-term care and asset distribution.

What is a health care directive and why do you need one?

While not an everyday topic, having clear instructions for your loved ones about your health care decisions is important. If you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself will your loved ones know what your wishes are?


The nuts and bolts of estate planning

Estate planning should be on your mind. With the holiday season in full swing, many people in Pennsylvania will be thinking the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Everyone likes to give and receive presents, but there is one gift that can do more than just put a smile on your loved ones' faces during the holidays: an estate plan, which is a gift that puts the planner's mind at ease and makes the process of passing on assets much simpler for family members.

A recent report provided some of the details and basics of an estate plan - the "nuts and bolts," if you will. First and foremost, the article provided a point that has been made in previous posts here: everyone needs to have an estate plan. Estate plans are not just for the "rich" or those who have complex assets to pass on. Most people do not really grasp the extent of their assets until they really sit down and examine them, which is part of the estate planning process.

Know your options in a contested estate matter

With probate and estate administration, Pennsylvania residents may sometimes get involved in a will contest. They don't know quite what to expect. The average person has limited exposure to our legal system, but even those who know a bit about the process can be left to wonder what their options are when an estate matter is contested.

This is especially true for Pennsylvania residents who are appointed as executors of an estate. These individuals have been placed in a position of trust by the decedent and must carry out their duties in line with the wishes expressed in the decedent's will. Unfortunately, there will sometimes be other individuals who do not agree with the terms of the will or who believe that the terms were the result of undue influence by another party. That is when a will contest can occur.

Alzheimer's disease may lead to a guardianship

Guardianships may be necessary for individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Many people in Pennsylvania probably know someone who has suffered from Alzheimer's disease. It is a terrible disease that can, essentially, ruin a person's life. This disease, unlike many others, attacks the brain and is almost impossible to treat.

When people suffer from Alzheimer's disease, they will experience the progressive deterioration of their mental abilities, and most importantly, their memories. The damage can become so extensive that, over time, people with Alzheimer's disease can forget important things about people close to them - even their names.

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