Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC
KMA Elder Law & Life Care Planning

The Information You Are Looking For About Pennsylvania Elder Law

There are so many new things to consider when you are handling legal issues related to aging. At Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, we can help you with all of them. Our firm has served the Bloomsburg area since 1971. Today, our primary focus is elder law. On this page, you will find a few frequently asked questions about elder law along with our answers.

What exactly is elder law?

Elder law refers to several legal services that affect senior citizens and their loved ones. Much of elder law involves laying the groundwork for seniors to enjoy independent, financially stable lives with an appropriate level of care while preserving their assets.

How can I avoid probate?

One of the best ways to avoid probate is to place your assets in trusts and designate them for certain beneficiaries. You can also use joint ownership of real estate; upon your death, the title will transfer to the co-owner. For bank accounts, stocks and certain other assets, you can designate them as payable-upon-death to a chosen recipient.

How do estate planning and elder law overlap?

Estate plans are important tools for the senior population. Elder law attorneys use estate plans to help you take control of your future proactively. When you use an estate plan with a will, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives and other documents, you set your loved ones up for financial security, ensure that your medical team acts according to your wishes and that the court will distribute your assets to the right beneficiaries.

Will I be able to afford a nursing home?

The best way to ensure you can afford the level of care you need in your old age is to work with an elder care attorney. With our extensive experience, we can evaluate your finances and determine which long-term care planning strategies work best for you. We help you explore Medicaid eligibility and other public or private funding options, as well.

What happens with a joint will if one spouse dies?

In most cases, a joint will becomes irrevocable after the first spouse dies. In other words, its terms are locked in and cannot be changed by the surviving spouse.

Barring complications, the deceased spouse’s individual assets are distributed according to the will. However, joint property, like real estate with “rights of survivorship,” goes directly to the surviving spouse. Unwilled assets typically need to go through probate court before distribution.

A major drawback is the inability to alter a joint will’s terms or replace it with a new will if circumstances change (remarriage, new heirs, etc.). Speak with your estate planning lawyer if you are considering a joint will to discuss its pros and cons in-depth.

How do I create (and designate) a power of attorney?

A power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual to make important decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself. It gives you control, even in your most vulnerable moments.

Selecting your representative is crucial. Choose someone you trust – someone with good judgment and the ability to make responsible decisions. Consider their age, location, health and other factors to ensure they can handle complex or urgent situations.

Pennsylvania recognizes several powers of attorney, including:

  • Financial: To address economic matters like bills, investments and real estate
  • Health care: To make medical decisions, talk to doctors and choose your care per your instructions

What are health care directives? How do they differ from living wills?

Health care directives are essentially prearranged instructions for medical care to use if you cannot speak for yourself. Like a power of attorney, they authorize your chosen agents to act on your behalf if incapacitated by illness or injury.

Contrary to common belief, a living will is a type of health care directive, not a separate concept. It is a specific document that allows you to express your preferences for life support or other treatments in the face of a terminal condition. For example, it allows you to specify whether (or not) you want to receive artificial life-prolonging measures.

Ask An Elder Law Attorney More Questions

You can learn even more by speaking with our reliable elder law lawyers at Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC. Please contact us at 570-798-1084 or send us an email to get more answers to your questions.