There are a lot legal questions surrounding a funeral service. The power of attorney, the will, a living trust; there are a lot of terms to know and understand. Whether you are planning for the future, or trying to sort everything out after the funeral you probably have a lot of questions. To help you understand some of the terms and distinctions, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions before and after the funeral.

A Living Will vs. A Living Trust

A Living Will and a Living Trust sound similar but they are actually very different things with very different purposes. A Living Will is a document that communicates your wishes regarding your medical care at the end of your life. A living trust on the other hand, holds and distributes your assets.

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney/Health Care Proxy?

Your health care power of attorney or proxy will be given the legal right to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are too ill to do so. Choose someone who can be trusted to make sensitive end-of-life decisions and who will respect your wishes.

Key Functions of a Will

You may have probably heard about all the misconceptions surrounding wills and what may or may not occur if you don’t have one. Here are some key functions of a Will.

Your assets are inherited by the person or persons you choose– Most people assume that if a husband or wife dies, everything goes to the surviving spouse. That is certainly true of jointly owned property, but in Pennsylvania (and most other states) the surviving husband or wife is entitled to only about one half the individually owned assets of a deceased spouse with the rest of the assets passing to the children.

A Will appoints guardians for Your children– If you die before your children reach adulthood, a Will can appoint the guardian of your children. Make sure that your chosen guardian is willing to agree before writing them into the Will.

Appoint a trustee for your children- This is the guardian overseeing your children’s estates while they are still minors. They will oversee the inheritance until the children reach adulthood.

Appointing Executors– This is the person in charge of the administration of your estate. Nominating an executor could help avoid arguments over who should locate your assets, and handle distribution, and taxes.

When a Will Doesn’t Help

A Will does not control your annuities, life insurance, or retirement funds. These do not form part of your property and the beneficiaries you nominated benefit.

What Will Happen Without a Will?

Not having a Will means that your estate will be controlled by an intestate law. The court will distribute your assets to your next of kin, and they will also appoint legal guardians and trustees to any underage children.

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