Advance Directives and Powers of Attorney. An advance directive helps to ensure that your healthcare wishes will be respected if you can’t speak or communicate. It is usually a written, legal document. If you don’t have a written document, you may express your wishes verbally to your family members or healthcare agent. It is wise to have an advance directive in case you become severely injured or ill and cannot participate in decisions about your health and medical care. Living wills and medical powers of attorney are types of advance directives.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). This written document authorizes an agent to handle certain types of transactions. General powers of attorney are broad and allow many types of transactions. Conversely, limited powers of attorney are for a specific task. The power of attorney is “durable” because it remains valid even after the person no longer has legal capacity to handle transactions, possibly due to an injury or illness. All powers of attorney executed since 1993 in Pennsylvania are durable unless stated otherwise.
Guardianships. To qualify for a guardian, a person must be impaired in such a way that he is partially or totally unable to manage financial resources or meet essential physical health or safety requirements. Stringent standards apply. A petition must be filed when a guardian is necessary.
Living Wills. Also called a treatment directive, lists your wishes about end-of-life medical treatment. It is used if you no longer have the ability to make decisions or communicate. The living will can be written so as to refuse life-sustaining treatment if the maker is incompetent and either in a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness.
Medical Power of Attorney. A legal document that lets you appoint someone (usually called a health care agent or proxy) to make decisions about your medical care. You can create an advance directive at any time and change it whenever you wish. You should share copies with your primary care physician and family. Make sure your family knows where your advance directive is located, and give a copy to your healthcare proxy. For more information on writing an advance directive, visit webmd.com and type “advance directive” in the search box.
Trusts. A trust is similar to a box where you place property, except a person places money in a brokerage or bank account and designates a manager referred to as the “trustee.” The trustee distributes trust assets to the beneficiaries you select. Your attorney might recommend a trust if you have a large estate, an estate with young beneficiaries or in situations with special circumstances.
Wills. A will is an important legal document and the cornerstone of most estate plans. In a will, you direct how your property is to be distributed and you name a personal representative to administer your estate. The executor collects the estate assets, pays the estate debts and makes distributions to the beneficiaries you have designated in your will. It is generally advisable to nominate one executor and an alternate in your will rather than naming two individuals to serve as co-executors.
Beaver County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
788 Turnpike St.
Beaver, PA 15009
There is a $25 fee that you pay the attorney at the time of your initial visit. This entitles you to a thirty minute consulation with the attorney. The fee for further legal work is established between you and the attorney.
Beaver County Office on Aging
1020 Eighth Ave.
Beaver Falls, PA 15010
(724) 847-2262 Local
(888) 548-2262 Long Distance
Offers legal assistance for wills and power of attorney documents for Beaver County residents ages 60 and older. A sliding fee scale is used to determine the amount owed based on income amounts. Call (724) 266-5500.
Disabilities Rights Pennsylvania
429 Fourth Ave., Ste. 701
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Disability Rights Pennsylvania protects and advocates for rights of people with disabilities so that they may live the lives they choose, free from abuse, neglect, discrimination and segregation.
Public Defenders Office of Beaver County
Beaver County Courthouse
810 Third St.
Beaver, PA 15009
Chief Public Defender Paul Steff, Esq., represents individuals who cannot afford private counsel in criminal cases, mental health hearings, summary appeals, juvenile matters and in indirect criminal contempt hearings on violation of protection from abuse orders. In order to be represented, defendants must complete an application with the department to see if they qualify based on income guidelines.
Pennsylvania Health Law Project
PHLP provides free legal services to lower-income consumers, seniors and persons with disabilities who are having trouble accessing publicly funded health care coverage or services. If you are denied or terminated from enrollment in a publicly funded healthcare program or have a service denied, reduced or terminated, PHLP may provide you free direct representation on your appeal.
Pennsylvania SeniorLAW Center
SeniorLAW helps to protect the legal rights and interests of seniors 60 and older by providing free legal services, community legal education, professional training, advice, information and referral services and advocacy.
The Arc of Beaver County
105 Beaver Valley Mall, Route 18
Monaca, PA 15061
Provides advocacy and support for individuals whose decision-making abilities are impaired based on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania criteria for guardianship. In tandem with the Beaver County Office on Aging, The Arc offers Older Adult Protective Services (OAPS) to prevent, reduce and eliminate danger to the well being and/or property of elderly persons. Caseworkers investigate and intervene in cases of abuse, neglect, abandonment, exploitation and other emergency situations. This help is available in older adults in the community, as well as those in licensed facilities. The individual’s personal rights are respected and legal counseling is arranged, when appropriate. To file a report, call (724) 775-1786 or (800) 272-0567.