Wills | Estate Planning | Guardianship
Prepare for Your Future
Start With A Last Will & Testament
How Do I Create A Will?
Did you know that you need more than a Last Will and Testament to have a complete estate plan? Otherwise, the plans you’ve put in place may never see the light of day. A Last Will and Testament covers your estate after you pass away, but who’s in control of your assets while you are alive but unable to make decisions for yourself?
Set up an estate plan to account for every scenario, avoid costly beneficiary disputes, and help you have peace of mind that your affairs are put in order.
Holman Law recommends having five estate planning documents that solve many unforeseen problems in a medical emergency or a crisis.
FIVE CRITICAL ESTATE PLAN DOCUMENTS
1. Last Will and Testament
3. Financial Power of Attorney
4. Medical Power of Attorney
5. Directive to Physicians (Living Will)
Take control of your future—it’s time to put a plan in place.
1. Last Will And Testament
After death, your will directs how your estate will be managed, who will receive your assets and in what manner. Without a will, the state of Texas will decide this for you. If you have the state decide, the cost for your family to manage the estate will be many times higher than if you had a last will and testament.
Without a last will and testament, any qualified person, who doesn’t have to be related to you, can ask the court to be put in charge of your estate. Without a will, it will be up to the judge to make that decision—not you.
A trust allows a third party (the trustee) to hold assets on behalf of another person (the beneficiary). There are a number of ways to set up a Trust which enables you to specify how and when the assets pass to beneficiaries. Trusts usually avoid probate, so beneficiaries are able to gain access to assets more quickly than they might through a Will.
It is likely that some part of your estate plan should include a trust. Consider the following:
- Are your children ready to manage a large sum of money right now?
- Is all your property located in the same state?
- Is your entire family located in the same state?
- Do you want your family to be able to avoid the costs and delays of probate?
- Do you want to make sure your spouse has enough to live on if you need expensive, long term care?
- Do you have a family member who is currently receiving public benefits and would lose eligibility if they received an inheritance from you?
If any of these apply to you, you should be talking to your attorney about the right kind of Trust to solve these issues.
3. Financial Power Of Attorney
A Financial (or Durable) Power of Attorney creates an ability to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. It’s important not to put this off. Sometimes people are concerned about giving up control and delay too long: you must be legally competent to assign this role!
Do you and your loved ones all have correctly drafted powers of attorney in place?
Some common issues with Powers of Attorney:
- Did you print a copy you found on the internet?
- Did you know every state has a different form?
- Did you know title companies in Texas require specific language in the Power of Attorney to allow you to complete real estate transactions on behalf of another?
- Did you include the Grant of Specific Authority Section and properly execute those specific terms? If not, you may be unable to take the necessary steps to help your loved one plan for long term care; perhaps forcing them to spend down their assets unnecessarily.
Talk to your attorney about these concerns so your Power of Attorney can be drafted correctly the first time.
4. Medical Power Of Attorney
You can ensure that your medical wishes are carried out by appointing a Medical Power of Attorney (also called a Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney). Note that Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney are created by separate documents.
Some important questions to consider:
- Who in your family has the authority to make medical decisions for each other?
- What if that person is unreachable—especially in today’s social distancing and quarantine environment?
- What back-ups are listed?
- Have you provided authorization to the right people to receive your medical information?
- If not, how will your loved ones be kept in the loop to make the best decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself?
Don’t take for granted that things will be handled in the way that you would want unless you have a plan in place.
5. Directive To Physicians (Living Will)
What if you are diagnosed with an incurable condition, or debilitated and unable to make decisions for yourself? Is it important for you to control your end of life treatment? Do you want to relieve your family from making a life and death call?
A Living Will allows you to explain in advance what kind of care you do and don’t want, in case you can’t communicate that in the future.
Get Your Estate Plan Put In Place
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