The tragedy of drug addiction has hit every state, including Pennsylvania. With heroin and prescription painkillers increasingly responsible for addiction and overdose, few families are untouched by the issue. Watching an adult child become entangled with substance abuse is the worst nightmare of many parents, and it adds a new challenge to the already complex process of estate planning.
Welcoming a child with special needs into the family means accepting a lifetime of joys and challenges. If parents understand that the child may be dependent on them for the rest of his or her life, they carry a heavy responsibility. They also know the time may arrive when they will not be around to care for the child. This is where careful estate planning can provide important safeguards.
There are many understandable reasons for postponing making an estate plan or revisiting the plan one made years ago. For many in Pennsylvania and across the country, procrastinating can lead to tragic consequences with families left to trudge through the loss of a loved one without the guidance of a will, trust or powers of attorney. Fortunately, the process of estate planning is easily handled if broken into small steps.
The importance of making an estate plan is something people in Pennsylvania have been hearing for decades. In some situations, the consequences of failing to plan for the future can be far-reaching. In fact, a man's lack of estate planning ended up before the highest court of one state.
The creation of an estate plan can occur at any stage of a person's life. Some in Pennsylvania choose to do their estate planning when they are young, for example when they start their own business or have children. Others wait until later in life, risking leaving their estate unplanned in the event of an incapacitating illness or untimely death. No matter when one executes an estate plan, it is often beneficial to revisit and perhaps revise the plan at critical junctures in life.