Many events in our lives, such as buying a home or having children, cause us to consider if we should prepare an estate plan. Often, once individuals acquire assets above $100,000, they seek the advice of an attorney. A typical estate plan involves a will, advance directives, and in some cases, a trust. Our Texas estate planning attorney can review your assets and desires for their disposition and propose the best estate plan for your situation.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning means planning how your property will be distributed after you die. You can also decide who will care for your children or who should be in charge of your affairs if you cannot make these decisions for yourself. An estate plan can combine various documents tailored to your situation. This may include a will, power of attorney, advance directives, a trust, and other documents.
Your Personal Situation Determines Your Estate Plan
Estate planning varies from case to case. Your circumstances will determine what is appropriate. But, there are some things that most people can benefit from regardless of their circumstances. Advance directives such as a medical power of attorney, living will, a DNR order, or durable power of attorney are examples.
Advance directives are legal documents you sign in advance while in good mental health. They guide medical professionals and family members on what actions should or should not be taken regarding your care when you can’t communicate your wishes due to incapacity or illness. They can help avoid conflicts that may occur when family members think they know what is best for you but cannot get your feedback.
A living will tells doctors what you would like to happen if your condition is terminal or irreversible and death is imminent. A medical power of attorney allows you to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf when a doctor determines you cannot do so. There is also a directive called a “Do Not Resuscitate”, which can instruct medical professionals not to resuscitate you in certain circumstances. A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone as your agent to make decisions about your property or finances when you cannot do so.
Wills and Trusts
Many Texans can also benefit from having a will and a trust if they have assets of $100,000 or more. A will allows you to express your desires concerning what should happen to your property, how you would like your remains to be dealt with, and more. It can also help you make important decisions you would rather not be left up to a court, such as who will take care of your children.
If you die without a will, you cannot choose who will inherit your money, property, and other assets. Texas law will determine how your assets are divided, and people you may not wish to inherit your assets may benefit. Furthermore, when there is no will, your estate can end up in a lengthy and expensive probate process where a court appoints professionals to handle your affairs. Your estate will pay for the costs of these services from your assets which means your loved ones will receive less.
By creating a will and trust, if appropriate, you can avoid all of this and take control of your situation. A well-written will that complies with Texas law can ensure your loved ones receive your property. Furthermore, a trust can keep assets out of the court process and allow them to be handled more privately. With appropriate estate planning, you may also be able to plan against paying unnecessary taxes. Our Texas estate planning attorney is experienced in helping Texans explore their estate planning options. For legal help, get in touch with our office today, we offer a free consultation.