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Married couples need an estate plan

submitted by E. Garrett Gummer, III, Esquire – www.GummerElderLaw.com

Do not assume your estate will automatically go to your spouse when you die. 

If you do not have an estate plan, your spouse may have to share your estate with other family members.
To avoid this, it is important to make sure you have estate planning documents in place.

The most basic estate planning document is your Will. 

If you do not have a Will, your estate will be distributed based on Pennsylvania law. 

For example, if you are married with children, the first $30,000 and one-half of the remainder of your estate, will pass to your spouse, and the balance will pass to your children.
Another important document is a durable power of attorney.

This document allows you to appoint an “agent” to act on your behalf if you become disabled or incapacitated. 

Without it, your assets may be frozen and your family will have petition the court for a guardian to manage your finances.
Similar to a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney allows you to appoint an “agent” to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself.
Do not assume your spouse is automatically protected if you become incapacitated or die.

Consult with your elder law attorney to make sure you have all the estate planning documents you need.

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