Estate Planning

Proper planning is needed to ensure your wishes are carried out. Failure to plan often results in unnecessary court proceedings.

The types of documents frequently utilized in an estate plan are:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Release
  • Advance Directive
  • Designation of Guardian Should the Need Arise
  • Designation of Guardian for a Minor Child
  • Appointment for Designation of Remains

Estate planning is not a form practice. Every family dynamic is different. While every family needs a plan, that plan is not the same for every family. Estate plans will vary based on the types of property you have, your marital status, whether or not you have children, etc. A quality estate plan will address your property at your death as well as your property and medical decisions if you were to become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. In addition, estate planning should also include discussions regarding long-term care planning, religious preferences, familial traditions, and any specific concerns you may have.

Knowing you have properly provided for yourself and your family can bring peace. It important to plan for many contingencies, such as what if you leave a minor child or someone becomes disabled. Failure to plan for contingencies is expensive. A good estate plan saves money, addresses your concerns, protects your wishes, and establishes guidelines for many different scenarios.

Our firm offers a cost-effective, flat-rate package for individuals or married couples. We look forward to working with you in this process.

Wills

In Texas, if you do not have a Will, Texas has a statute that acts as a substitute for your wishes and determines who receives your things when you die. Your Last Will & Testament nominates an executor, someone who can stand in your place and carry out your wishes, and directs where your things go when you are no longer here to direct this yourself. Your Will can establish testamentary trusts to protect assets for children, special needs adults, disabled adults, or even spendthrift children!

It is imperative to have a Will in Texas. The advantage of utilizing an attorney in this process is that you have a witness to your mental capacity, a validly executed document (Texas is very specific!), a plan for special situations, and a back up copy of this important document (in case yours is lost).

Powers of Attorney

There are two types of powers of attorney:

  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney appoints someone to make your financial decisions. This person can be appointed immediately or can begin to serve only if a doctor states in writing that you can no longer make these decisions for yourself. This document is very important and should be highly respected because it creates a fiduciary relationship between you and another person. Additionally, the documents do not have to be accepted by banks and other financial institutions. It is important to have a document that will be accepted. Property drafting is critical!

A Medical Power of Attorney appoints someone to make your medical decisions in the event that you can not make them for yourself. It is important to choose someone who will follow your wishes even if they disagree with them.

Failure to have Powers of Attorney in place can result in very expensive legal fees. In a crisis, Powers of Attorney allow your chosen Agent to seamlessly step into a helping role.

HIPAA Release

Federal law prohibits the sharing of any adult individual’s medical information with anyone, regardless of the relationship, without consent. A HIPPA Release grants this consent and is vital in ensuring your loved ones are informed in the event of an accident or illness. Your protected health information is important and personal. You get to decide who has access to it and who doesn’t. The HIPAA Release is a global document that allows access in the event that you are unable to give consent due to health complications or mental impairment.

Directive to Physicians

Commonly known as a “living will,” the Directive to Physicians tells your physicians and your family your wishes in certain circumstances. While Texas has a statutory form, understanding the legal definitions and ramifications is critical to ensuring your wishes are carried out. This document is important because your family will not have to guess your wishes. You can gift the gift of comfort and knowledge in a difficult situation where you are unable to convey this yourself.

Trusts

Trusts allow for flexible, creative solutions to common estate issues. Common benefits of trusts include probate avoidance, asset administration during incapacity, and protection in the event that extended care is required for the aged. Trusts can also allow inheritances to pass to the next generation in a protected manner that suits the needs of both minor and adult. For more information, visit our section detailing trusts.