Due to COVID-19, most court functions in the state have been suspended. In addition, our office is working remotely. For assistance, please email esr@mmzlaw.com with your contact information and the legal matter you need help with and someone will be in touch. If you are seeking help regarding a Will, Financial, or Health Care Power of Attorney, every effort will be made to respond as quickly as possible.

Navigating Uncertainty: The Importance of Having a Power of Attorney in PA

In life, uncertainty is the only certainty. Events unfold, often unexpectedly, leaving individuals and their families to navigate the complexities of legal and financial affairs during times of crisis. Understanding the significance of establishing a power of attorney in PA is crucial for protecting oneself and one’s assets. This blog will highlight some of the pivotal questions surrounding these legal instruments and underscore the necessity of professional guidance in securing your future.

What Is a Power of Attorney and Why Is It Essential in Pennsylvania?

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants one person (the agent) the authority to act on behalf of another (the principal) in making decisions related to financial, legal, and healthcare matters. In Pennsylvania, a POA serves as a safeguard, ensuring that your preferences are honored, and your affairs are managed effectively by someone you trust should you be unable to make decisions independently.

Is There a Difference Between Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney?

Yes, a significant difference exists between a power of attorney and a durable power of attorney (DPOA). The primary distinction lies in their effectiveness when the principal (the person who grants the power) becomes incapacitated.

As previously discussed, a power of attorney in PA is a legal document that allows someone (the agent) to make decisions on behalf of another person. On the other hand, a durable power of attorney includes specific language or is created so that it remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated. The term “durable” refers to the enduring nature of the document under these circumstances, ensuring that the agent can continue to act on the principal’s behalf without interruption. This distinction is crucial for managing the principal’s affairs seamlessly during periods of incapacity.

The importance of having a DPOA cannot be overstated, especially when making healthcare decisions or managing financial matters when the principal is not in a position to do so themselves. By default, most powers of attorney executed after certain dates (which can vary by jurisdiction) are considered durable unless stated otherwise in the document.

While both types of POA grant someone else the authority to act on your behalf, the durable power of attorney remains effective even if you become incapacitated, which is not the case with a standard POA. It should also be noted that POAs can be split into two different documents, one covering health care and the other covering financial decisions, if you have different Agents in mind for those respective items.

How Does the Absence of a Power of Attorney Affect Your Family and Assets?

Without proper planning through powers of attorney in PA, families face considerable difficulties managing both the welfare of their incapacitated loved one and their assets. This lack of preparation can force families into a reactive position, where decisions are made under pressure. Not having a POA may also add a legal hurdle for your loved ones, which can delay important medical treatments and financial decisions, leading to potential mismanagement of assets and unpaid bills.

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The guardianship process, which may become necessary if someone without a POA becomes incapacitated, emotionally strains loved ones due to potential legal battles and disagreements and imposes financial burdens through legal fees and court costs. Establishing a POA is a straightforward yet essential step in ensuring that your affairs are managed according to your wishes, sparing your family from additional stress and financial hardship during already challenging times.

What Happens If You Do Not Have a Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania and You Become Incapacitated?

In Pennsylvania, if you become incapacitated without a power of attorney, your family or loved ones will not have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding financial matters or healthcare. In such cases, it becomes necessary for them to seek intervention from a court to appoint a guardian or conservator. This legal process can be lengthy, emotionally draining, and costly. Depending on the court’s judgment, a court hearing will determine the necessity of guardianship and select an appropriate guardian, which could be a family member or an external appointee.

This situation complicates the management of your affairs, as the appointed guardian is subject to court oversight, requiring regular updates and approvals for significant decisions. Furthermore, without a POA that outlines your medical preferences, healthcare providers will make decisions based on general guidelines or family consultations, potentially leading to treatments you might not have desired. Having a durable power of attorney in PA is crucial for ensuring that your personal and medical wishes are respected, even when you can no longer communicate them directly.

Why Should You Seek Professional Help in Drafting a Power of Attorney in PA?

Drafting a POA requires careful consideration and a thorough understanding of Pennsylvania laws to ensure that your documents are valid and accurately reflect your wishes. Professionals specializing in estate planning can provide invaluable advice, helping you navigate the legal intricacies and avoid common pitfalls. Their expertise ensures that your POA is tailored to your specific needs, offering peace of mind to you and your family.

The unpredictability of life necessitates preparation and foresight. Establishing a power of attorney in PA and drafting a will are critical steps in protecting yourself, your assets, and your loved ones from future uncertainties. In Pennsylvania, where legal requirements and procedures can be complex, seeking professional assistance is essential. Secure your legacy and ensure that your wishes are honored by taking action today. Contact us at May Herr & Grosh to get started.


This blog is being published for educational purposes only as well as to provide general information and a basic understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By entering this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. This site should never be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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