REBECCA A. HOBBS
Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esq., is an associate attorney with the law firm O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C. Ms. Hobbs focuses her practice in elder law, special needs planning, estate planning, estate and trust administration, and Veteran’s benefits. Ms. Hobbs is accredited as a United States Veterans Administration Attorney. She is also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and the Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys (PAELA). She is an active member of the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA). She serves on the PBA Charitable Organizations Committee and the PBA Legal Services to Persons with Disabilities Committee. She is also a graduate of the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2013-2014. As an elder law attorney Ms. Hobbs is able to provide exceptional legal guidance while also understanding the sensitivity and compassion needed for assisting families in a time of crisis. Ms. Hobbs resides in Phoenixville with her husband and two children.
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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.
Estate Planning: One-Size Does Not Fit All
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing, and growing quickly. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and they estimate that up to 16 million will have the disease by 2050 (http://www.alz.org). With the rise of dementia related diseases like Alzheimer’s, executing an estate plan before it is too late is essential. Having an estate plan means more than “one-size fits all” documents that you can print from the internet. Your estate plan needs be tailored to fit your needs and to comply with the complexities of the law of the state in which you reside. A good estate plan will consist of more than just a simple Last Will and Testament. A well-executed estate plan will take into account the potential of you developing a medical condition that will render you unable to handle your finances and or decisions concerning your health. A well-executed estate plan will also include an Advance Medical Directive or Living Will which expresses your wishes with regard to end of life decisions.
An Advance Medical Directive is a document which contains two components, both a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. This document allows you to appoint an agent to make decisions for you regarding your health in the event you are incapacitated. The Living Will component of this document allows for you to express your wishes with regard to end of life decisions and decisions regarding artificial life sustaining treatment.
A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to manage your financial assets in the event you become incapacitated. Without a Power of Attorney, there may be a need to proceed with a guardianship through the Orphans’ Court. This proceeding can be expensive and time-consuming.
The most common estate planning document is a Last Will and Testament. A Last Will and Testament allows you to direct who is to receive your property upon your death, and allows you to select an executor. The executor is the person who will manage the estate administration process. Your Last Will and Testament must be personalized to your needs and your family. For example, if leaving an inheritance to a grandchild or a child who is not good at managing money, you may want to establish a trust for the benefit of the grandchild or child. Further, if you are leaving an inheritance to an individual that has special needs and is on public benefits or may be on public benefits in the future, a special needs trust must be utilized in order to not jeopardize the benefits the individual is receiving.
Therefore, along with a Last Will and Testament, your estate plan may also include a trust. There are many types of trusts, and depending on the reason and purpose for establishing a trust, the trust may look and be very different. There are revocable and irrevocable trusts. Trusts can be created during one’s life (Inter-Vivos), or trusts may be established through an individual’s Last Will and Testament (Testamentary). Trusts can have many different purposes, such as to provide for minors, to protect assets for an individual with special needs, to minimize federal estate tax, or to protect from long-term care costs, just to name a few.
Planning ahead and executing a well-crafted estate plan is imperative. No two estate plans should look the same; rather, your estate plan should be tailored to fit your needs and family dynamics. For more information regarding this topic or to schedule a consultation, please call me at 610-323-2800 or email me at email@example.com. Also, please watch OWM's September 2015 Legal Talk program regarding Why Your Estate Plan Should Be More Than a Simple Will on our website here.
OWM Law sponsoring First Friday celebration in Phoenixville on 10/2/15.
David A. Megay, Esq., speaking at Chester County Night School Seminars at Owen J. Roberts High School, Pottstown, PA, on 9/30/15 entitled "Buying and Selling Real Estate in PA" and on 10/28/15 entitled "Starting Your Own Business" (contact Chester County Night School at 610-692-1964 or online atwww.chestercountynightschool.org).
Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., speaking at Chester County Night School Seminars at Pierce Middle School, West Chester, PA, on 9/29/15 and at Owen J. Roberts Middle School, Pottstown, PA, on 10/6/15 entitled "Elder Law Issues"; and at Owen J. Roberts Middle School, Pottstown, PA, on 10/20/15 entitled "Beyond the Simple Will" (contact Chester County Night School at 610-692-1964 or online at www.chestercountynightschool.org).
Watch Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website here.
Read Legal Ease every first and third Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury.