Monday, March 18, 2019

Seven Essential Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning may not be a high priority for many people, but it should be for several reasons. A comprehensive estate plan helps you protect your property and provide for your heirs during and after your lifetime. Your estate planning documents also allow you to remain in control of important financial and medical decisions if you become incapacitated. Meeting with a Texas estate-planning lawyer is the first step in developing an estate plan that ensures your wishes are carried out after your death or when you cannot speak for yourself.

Seven Estate Planning Documents Everyone Needs

1. Will

A will is a basic estate-planning document that everyone needs. A will directs how your final estate is distributed to your heirs. Without a will, Texas intestate laws determine who inherits your property.

2. Living Will or Directive to Physicians

A Directive to Physicians or Living Will allows you to choose whether you want life-sustaining medical procedures if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition. Some individuals do not want feeding tubes, respirators, or other medical intervention. A Living Will allows them to make these wishes known even if they cannot speak for themselves at the time.

3. Durable General Power of Attorney

A Durable General Power of Attorney appoints an agent who has the authority to make financial decisions for you during your lifetime. The “durable” clause of a power of attorney ensures that the authority of the agent to act on your behalf is not impacted by incapacitation.

4. Medical Power of Attorney

A Medical Power of Attorney allows an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. 

5. HIPAA Release

Your medical records are protected by law. However, your family members may need access to these records in certain circumstances. A HIPAA release allows a family member or other person you choose to receive medical information and discuss your health with your physicians and health care providers.

6. Designation of Guardian

Your Designation of Guardian informs the court who you want to serve as your guardian should you need one. It can also serve to notify the court who you would not want to serve as your guardian.

7. Revocable Living Trust

Many people choose to use a Revocable Living Trust to hold title to certain assets during their lifetime. A Revocable Living Trust has several benefits. First, because the trust holds title to the property, it can provide some protection from creditors’ claims. You may also serve as the trustee, so you remain in control of the assets. Because the trust is revocable, you can modify the terms of the trust or revoke the trust. A trust can reduce or eliminate estate taxes and avoid probate.

Upon your death or incapacitation, the trust becomes irrevocable, and the successor trustee you name in the trust assumes management of the trust. The trustee distributes the property to the trust beneficiaries after your death.

Contact a Texas Estate-Planning Attorney for More Information 

If you have questions about estate planning or documents required to protect your property and your interests, consulting with a Texas estate-planning attorney can help you get the answers you need. Schedule a consult with one of our experienced estate-planning lawyers today. An attorney can help you develop a plan that is tailored to your needs and goals.

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