Pa Estate Law – Documents – 7

Four primary documents tend to form the foundation of most good estate plans.

Although each of these documents addresses different situations, be aware that each of these documents also shares similar attributes. A succinct review of each follows.

Pa Estate LawPa Powers of Attorney

  • A Power of Attorney can grant
  • your boss (“Agent”)
  • the ability to control all of your affairs.

Pa Estate LawPa Living Wills

  • A “Living Will” can grant
  • your boss (“Surrogate”)
  • the ability to execute your end of life decisions.

Pa Estate LawPa Last Wills

  • A Last Will can grant
  • your boss (“Executor”)
  • the ability to administer your Estate..

Pa Estate LawPa Trusts

  • A Trust can grant
  • your boss (“Trustee”)
  • the ability to manage your Trust.

Pa Estate Law – Traits – 6


Under Pennsylvania law, the proper terms for the persons in charge of your Estate Planning documents are “fiduciaries” and I refer to these people – those in charge – as the “Bosses.”

Each boss has powers (which are discussed in Pa Estate Law – Powers (5-8)).

Pa Estate Law – Traits – 6

Notable is the fact that these bosses need to possess certain traits or characteristics in order for that document to be as effective as possible.

I have experienced that two traits should be inherent in all of the bosses of all four of the documents:

  • Ability
  • Willingness

Although the bosses of each of the documents should also possess additional traits for that particular document to be effective (all of which shall be addressed in “Pa Estate Law – Documents (7-8),” unless your boss is “able” and “willing” to act on your behalf, your desires and wishes may not be followed.

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This article, which I published in the The Pennsylvania Law Weekly in the Spring of 2009 (with a few minor changes) is still relevant today. You can also review this article in the series of posts that have been – and will be – published in this blog.

Pa Estate Law – 1 – Intro
Pa Estate Law – 2 – Planning
Pa Estate Law – 3 – Taxes
Pa Estate Law – 4 – Fiduciaries
Pa Estate Law – 5 – Powers
Pa Estate Law – 6 – Traits
Pa Estate Law – 7 – Documents
Pa Estate Law – 8 – Pointers

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Pa Estate Law – Powers – 5

Under Pennsylvania law, the proper terms for the persons in charge of your Estate Planning documents are called your “fiduciaries” and I refer to these people – those in charge – as the “Bosses.” Each boss has powers, and these powers can be summarized very simply.

Pa Estate Law – Powers – Summary

  • Agent (under a Power of Attorney) can help manage all of your affairs.
  • Surrogate (under an Advance Directive for Health Care) can execute your end of life decisions.
  • Executor (under a Will) can administer your Estate.
  • Trustee (under a Trust) can monitor and manage your Trust.

Pa Estate Law – Powers – Note

Again, and although a technical knowledge of the parameters of these various powers can be useful, it is not the point of this article. The focus is to illustrate that an Agent, a Surrogate, an Executor, and a Trustee can generally possess broad powers to act for you under that respective document.

• • •

This article, which I published in the The Pennsylvania Law Weekly in the Spring of 2009 (with a few minor changes) is still relevant today. You can also review this article in the series of posts that have been – and will be – published in this blog.

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