Dei Lynam: Welcome to Pennsylvania Law TV. Today, we’ll be talking about wills and estates. My guest is Attorney Karen Byrnes-Noon, and she’s going to talk with us about this topic. So Karen, thank you for being here today.
Karen Noon: Thank you for having me here today.
Dei Lynam: Well Karen, what constitutes a will?
Karen Noon: A will is a document that explains the person’s intent with regard to their property after they pass. It basically … Their intentions are put in writing and how their property is distributed after they die.
Dei Lynam: At what age do you recommend an individual have a will?
Karen Noon: We recommend that anyone 18 or older have a will. When I was preparing for this today, I actually read an article that was in our local newspaper. This particular person was explaining that, unfortunately, her brother died very young, died at 26 years old. She had to plan the funeral. There was no will in place. Her whole point behind this article was how a will can make it easier for your family after you’re gone and with reference to what you want done with your property, how things are to be distributed. It was a very, very sad article but also one that needs to be considered because as indicated, brother was very young, 26 years old, but there was a lot of things that she had to make decisions on because there was nothing in place. So we do recommend anyone over the age of 18 to get a will.
Dei Lynam: Help us understand what a power of attorney is. I understand there is a power of attorney for healthcare and also a regular power of attorney.
Karen Noon: There is. A power of attorney is, basically, you’re giving a person access to your property. One of the important considerations with reference to power of attorney is that a person has to be competent. We meet with the individual. We make sure that they are referred to them as being legally competent, able to make decisions as to who is going to look after their property and who is going to have access to their property.
Dei Lynam: Let’s talk about the healthcare power of attorney.
Karen Noon: With the healthcare power of attorney, many individuals do not want to have things done to them if they’re in a state where a doctor indicates that there’s no chance of recovery. They don’t want extreme measures taken, so therefore, if the hospital or the doctor or your family have that in writing, it makes, again, just like a will, just like a power of attorney, it makes things easier on your family with reference to very serious decisions that have to be made with reference to healthcare. But if it’s in writing, you’re the one making those decisions when you’re competent and not your family when it’s such a sad situation for them dealing with this anyway.
Dei Lynam: Karen, do you feel it’s important to have an attorney involved in these matters?
Karen Noon: We feel that it’s important to have an attorney involved in all of these matters, such as wills and powers of attorney and healthcare powers of attorney. There are certain language that must be in all of these documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out. If that language is not in there or if it’s confusing or if it’s not clear, then it is a problem. We have individuals that have been working at this law firm for many, many years. We have individuals who’ve been reading wills, who’ve been reading healthcare power of attorney, reading powers of attorney for many years. The experience with reference to these individuals is unmatched. I think it’s very important to have an experienced individual help you with these very serious matters.
Dei Lynam: What if an individual dies without a will?
Karen Noon: If a person dies without a will, there are intestate laws in Pennsylvania that must be followed. Sometimes, we people will come into us and say, “Oh, my spouse, this person, passed away,” and everything is okay. But sometimes, it is not depending on what relatives they leave behind. Again, we can help you through that process. We can help you if something, again, unfortunate happens and a person dies without a will. We can help you with that.
One thing I do wanna mention with reference to wills, and I think it’s a really important part of our practice here, things in life change. You make a will. A year later, various things have changed in your life. We have a policy here, that changes in your will are free. That is not something that is offered by many law firms and again, I think that it … When we tell people that … “Oh, I might have to change it in a year or two years,” and we tell them that changes are free, they’re very happy about that because they don’t really want to consistently have to spend money on these obviously important matters but they don’t wanna have to spend money on it either. So I think that’s a very important thing to mention to our viewers today, that our changes in wills are free.
Dei Lynam: That’s a great benefit.
Karen Noon: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. We are very proud of that and we think it’s an excellent policy for our clients.
Dei Lynam: Karen, if someone has specific questions about a will or estate matter, how can they reach your office?
Karen Noon: You could certainly go to our website, which is www.OConnorLaw.com. Or you could call us at 1-800-518-4LAW. One of the advantages of our law firm is that we do have an answering service, and you can leave a message for us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Dei Lynam: Great. Karen, thank you for your time today.
Karen Noon: Thank you.