OWM Newsletter
January, 2012


Attorney Spotlight

James C. Kovaleski, Esq., is an associate attorney with OWM Law and Co-Chair of the Estate Planning Practice Group.  Mr. Kovaleski concentrates his practice in the Estate Planning and Administration, Elder Law, Tax Law, Business Planning and Real Estate Trasaction areas.

Mr. Kovaleski is active in the Phoenixville area, working out of OWM Law’s Phoenixville office, serving as a Phoenixville Council member, as well as serving on the Boards of variouslocal non-profits.  He lives in Phoenixville with his wife and daughter. 

Phone: 610-917-9347
Fax: 610-917-9348
Email: jkovaleski@owmlaw.com

The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.


Top Ten Reasons to do Estate Planning

Estate planning, even basic estate planning in the form of a Last Will and Testament, Durable Financial Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of Attorney with Living Will, is often overlooked or not completed by many individuals.  These three documents form the basic parts of an estate plan, which can help protect the individuals and also their assets. 

Top Five Reasons to Have a Will:

5.    Appointment of a guardian for minor children – Parents who have minor children should have a Will if for no other reason than to appoint a guardian who would responsible for those children in the event of the death of both parents.  Care should be given in selecting a guardian, as this individual will be responsible for raising children and will have significant responsibility related to those activities.  In the event that the parents do not have a Will appointing a guardian, a guardian would be appointed for minor children; however, it may not be the individual that the parents would have preferred.

4.    Appointing the correct fiduciaries – Under a Will, you appoint an executor, who is in charge of carrying out the wishes set forth in the Will.  Often, if there is a potential that a minor would inherit under a Will, a Will would include a trust for minor beneficiaries.  This trust is managed by an individual called a trustee.  Selecting the right individuals for these fiduciary positions is important and a Will allows an individual the opportunity to select who they believe would best carry out those duties in accordance with their wishes. 

3.    Address a charitable intent – If an individual has a charitable intent and wishes to provide for a charity upon their death, a Will would allow them to structure that transfer to the charity.  An individual may also set up their own charity which can receive monies upon their death.

2.    Providing for a child with special needs – If an individual has a child with special needs, it is important to have a Will to set up the appropriate trusts so that funds can be left for the benefit of that child while preserving any support that the child may be receiving. 

1.    Protecting beneficiaries – Often times, individuals who are beneficiaries of an estate may have outside influences which may affect their ability to properly manage an inheritance.  This may be something as simple as they are minors and the money should go into a trust until they reach a certain age, or it may be that they are adult individuals with issues such as they are bad at managing money, their family situation may be changing, or a myriad of other reasons.  By having a Will, you can set up certain protections to aid beneficiaries in overcoming the obstacles or the issues they face in their lives. 

Top Five Reasons to Have a Durable Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney with Living Will:

5.    Appointment of the correct individuals as agents – The individual making the Powers of Attorney, often referred to as a principal, selects who they would want to serve as their financial and medical agent.  This does not have to be the same individual, but, in any event, should be an individual trusted by the principal and someone the principal believes will act in their best interests.

4.    A Durable Financial Power of Attorney allows the principal to have assistance in handling their financial needs – In some cases, individuals require assistance in their financial matters, including paying bills, going to the bank, and various other instances.  By having a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, you appoint an agent who can assist you in these matters and whom you trust. 3.    Having a Health Care Power of Attorney with Living Will allows you to make known your decisions regarding health care – The principal through the Living Will makes choices for medical treatment which apply to situations when you are incapacitated and are suffering from an end-stage medical condition.  Without the Living Will, your agent may not be able to make those choices on your behalf.

2.    The Health Care Power of Attorney should include a HIPAA authorization – By having a proper Health Care Power of Attorney, your agent will be authorized to access medical records on your behalf which they have been prevented from doing under HIPAA.  The inability to access information or speak to doctors on behalf of a person is becoming a more common occurrence.  With a properly executed Health Care Power of Attorney, you can avoid any such inconvenience.

1.    Avoid the need for a guardianship – By executing a property Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney, individuals can appoint an agent who would act on their behalf in certain circumstances.  In the event that an individual becomes incapacitated and does not have these documents in place, it may be necessary to go through a guardianship proceeding to have a guardian appointed.  This is a much longer and more expensive process.

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O'Donnell,Weiss & Mattei, P.C.

41 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Fax: 610-323-2845

347 Bridge Street, Suite 200
Phoenixville, PA 19460
Fax: 610-917-9348