So you made the jump and finally decided to go paperless on all of your billing and banking!  Think of all the space and trees you will save eliminating that excess paper from your daily life.  But what happens if you can no longer access those accounts?

I don’t mean what happens if you lose

When I am preparing a client’s living will, it is by far the most common choice for them to indicate that they desire no extraordinary measures. One of the extraordinary measures specifically spelled out in a living will is mechanical ventilation.  

But what if you need a ventilator for a COVID-19-related hospitalization?

The current

The March 16, 2020 declaration of a statewide judicial emergency has dramatically reduced the functions of the Lancaster County Courthouse. This declaration has also closed the Lancaster County Register of Wills, effectively halted the probating of any wills in Lancaster County. Consequently, all estates requiring probate have been in a holding pattern.  

For more information

George has dementia and is no longer able to make medical decisions for himself. Physically, George is fairly healthy, but has developed some heart issues that would benefit from a pacemaker. Prior to developing dementia, George appointed his niece Amanda to be his Health Care Agent and drafted a Living Will, wherein he stated he did not want any heroic measure in the event he was in an end-stage of a terminal illness. George told Amanda “I don’t want to be hooked up to all those machines. Just let me die!” But that was the extent of their conversation. Amanda was close to George when she was younger, but didn’t have a chance to see him too often in recent years. Now she needs to decide whether Uncle George should receive the pacemaker, which would probably prolong his life. But would he want to prolong his life given his advanced dementia?

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash


Continue Reading Discussing Your Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will is So Much More Than What You Want at the End of Life

One of my memories from childhood is watching my mother build and run her own business. I saw first hand how she lived the job, how seriously she took her responsibilities to her customers and employees, and how she never really stopped thinking about work. It was what she had to do to make the business successful. At the time, I didn’t always enjoy sitting at dinner and listening to my parents discuss the store finances or how to deal with a problem employee; however, I now realize that I was learning by just listening and it has helped inform my approach to working with small business owners and understanding what it takes to establish and maintain a successful business. I know how hard small business owners work. There can be so much focus on building the business and running it day to day that people often forget to address what happens when they no longer want to keep it going or can no longer work at the same pace. I don’t mean what happens when a business fails. What happens when a business succeeds? How do you transition it to the next owner? How do you protect the legacy you’ve worked hard to build?
Continue Reading What happens when a business succeeds? Estate planning for business owners.

When “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin died on August 16, 2018, her family thought she died without a Will. There were many questions about what would happen to her estate and what Aretha’s wishes were upon her death.

In legal terms, it was believed that Aretha died intestate, or without a Will. You can read more about Pennsylvania’s intestate laws and how an estate is handled when someone dies without a Will here.

In many cases, when someone dies without a Will, it can cause controversy in an already grieving family. For Aretha Franklin, we can only assume that the vast size of her estate and the legacy attached to it left her heirs wondering Who’s Zoomin’ Who?
Continue Reading Oh Me, Oh My It’s Time to Get Your Estate Plan in Order: Lessons from Aretha Franklin’s Death and Her Handwritten Wills

“Irrevocable Trust” sounds so formal and intimidating. Also, there are two very different pronunciations. Regardless of how you pronounce “irrevocable,” it can be intimidating if you are not properly advised during the drafting process. When a person creates an irrevocable trust, they relinquish ownership and control of the assets they are transferring to the trust. The assets are then controlled by the Trustee appointed in the trust document. The Trustee must control those assets in accordance with the rules outlined in the trust document. It is crucial that you are satisfied with the trust document before signing it, because unlike a revocable trust which can be amended at will in most cases, there are only a few limited circumstances where an irrevocable trust can be amended or terminated.
Continue Reading Revocable versus Irrevocable Trusts

Next to a Testamentary Trust created for the protection of minor’s assets, the most commonly requested trust is a revocable trust. A revocable trust can be a great tool if you need a little more control over assets, have property in different states, or have some more complex estate planning considerations. However, there are some drawbacks to a revocable trust as well.
Continue Reading Is a Revocable Trust Right for Me?