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Why a Will is a Must and Other Important Documents for LGBT's


This article has been published with the permission of the author, Derek J. Cordier, Esquire.  Visit Derek J. Cordier online at http://gaymarriagelawyers.com/Pennsylvania.htm

Why a Will is a Must and Other Important Documents for LGBTs

Here are the basics.  Wills if you die without a Will or a spouse in Pennsylvania, your estate passes to your children.  If you do not have children your estate passes to your parents, then to your brothers and sisters or their children.  Your grandparents are next, and then on down the family line until your estate goes to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.   Who will be the administrator of you estate is also governed by state law.

 

If you have a partner and die without a Will, the partner may not only end up with nothing, but may have to go to court to prove ownership of what was rightfully theirs.  If you have minor children, a court may appoint a guardian that may not be the person you hoped to raise them.  Even with a small estate a Will is important because if you die in an accident because of negligence, the person named in your Will could benefit from an award or settlement.  Larger estates should utilize estate planning to make sure that they are not taxed more than the law requires.  Another consideration is funeral arrangements.  If you do not leave specific instructions as to your wishes, those closest to you may not have any rights to your remains and could even be barred from the funeral.   A Will can prove your intent to choose someone other than your next of kin to have rights to your remains. (Next of kin have rights by state law).

 

Two documents that allow you to decide who makes health care decisions when you are incapacitated are the Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Living Will.  Without a Power of Attorney for Health Care, those closest to you may not only be barred from making medical decisions, but may be barred from the hospital as well.  However, a Power of Attorney for Health Care does not necessarily allow those closest to you to stop life support so a Living Will, called an Advanced Directive for Health Care, is needed to carry out those wishes.  It is also recommended that you carry a Medical Identification Card that simply states who to contact in case of an emergency.

 

Another important document is the Power of Attorney for Finances, which allows someone else to make financial decisions for you, including making payments and writing checks.  Basically, with this document anything you can do financially can also be accomplished by the person you appoint.  This power is especially important if you become incapacitated.  However, this power can be designed to be broad or specific, such as simply allowing the transfer of an automobile. 

 

All of these documents are very inexpensive considering the rights they convey and the peace of mind they give.  A Simple Will should not cost more that $100.00 and the Power of Attorney for Health Care, Living Will, and Power of Attorney for Finances should be less than that.  You can get these in kits over the internet, but are not recommended, especially the Powers of Attorney, as Pennsylvania has specific notice requirements.  Also, using an attorney will help ensure that the documents are correct.

 This article has been published with the permission of the author, Derek J. Cordier, Esquire.  Visit Derek J. Cordier online at http://gaymarriagelawyers.com/Pennsylvania.htm

Derek J. Cordier, Esquire
319 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104-1621
(717) 919-4002 / Derek@derekjcordier.com