Are you losing sleep and stressed out because you have not legally documented what happens after you pass away?
Every adult needs to have an Estate Plan because no one can predict the future.
It is important to have a plan for when you pass so that your legacy and children are taken care of according to your plan, so that there is not additional chaos and burden on your family in forms of lawsuits and family fighting.
Today is the Best Day to Start Making an Estate Plan.
Now is as good of a time as it will ever be to get your affairs in order. Often times people put it off until they are either elderly or seriously ill, creating a situation where it is too late to make a plan. When you make an appointment with our firm, you will quickly learn how to eliminate the fear and confusion and move forward with a process to make sure that your family is not left with a huge mess to deal with after you pass away.
Five Questions to Think About if You Keep Putting Off Your Estate Planning
Do you actually know what happens to you and your money and your loved ones when you die?
Do you want your family to stay out of court and avoid conflict when you die?
Do you want to leave a plan or leave a mess for your loved ones?
If something happens to you and your spouse today, have you prepared a plan to take care of your children?
Do you have a plan in place so that if your spouse remarries, that the money meant for your children will not go to the new spouse and their family instead?
Do I really need a Will?
Every person needs a will if you own any property. If you die without a will, your property will not be given according to your wishes, but according to the laws of Intestate Succession in the State of Texas. Making a Will is the only way to ensure that the property that makes up your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.
Regardless of age or stage of life, it is important to consider the last opportunity that you will have to communicate your wishes to both family and friends. You should have a will if you own any property, whether a home, retirement benefits, real or personal property and so on. Having a will ensures that your property is distributed according to your wishes as opposed to direction of the State of Texas. If you don't have a will, you will be giving up your right to decide who inherits your property. Further the absence of a will articulating your intentions results in the court resorting to a “one-size-fits-all” approach. If you die without a will and not survived by relatives you property will go to the State when you might have preferred to leave it to a friend or charity. Lastly, without a will you cannot disinherit any heirs.
It is also an opportunity to choose an executor of your estate, as well as, appoint a guardian for your minor children. If a parent of minor children dies without a will, the court will be forced to decide without awareness of your wishes for the long-term care of your kids. The court-appointed administrators and guardians may not be the family member or friend that you would have chosen. Due to the risks and laws involved, the legacy that you choose to leave by executing your Last Will and Testament will be reassuring.
Who do I want to be my Executor?
Think of who do you want to carry out and handle the administration of your estate. This personal representative acts in accordance with your will to carry out your wishes. They will need to get the will filed with the probate court and distribute your property and assets according to your designated beneficiaries. It is best to have already decided on a burial and funeral arrangements with a prepaid plan so that your Executor can act quickly according to your plans. Most often we see the Executor being the spouse, sibling, adult children, or close friend of the person making the will. No doubt your family will be grieving so it is important to think who can handle these matters during a difficult time. Also, you need to come up with an alternative person to be the Executor in case the person your name either dies before you or is unable or not willing to serve as your Executor.
Who should I choose to be the Guardian for my children?
So if you have children that are under 18 years old, think about who you should appoint to care for your children and become their legal guardian when you die. When you die and leave a child who is a minor, you need to designate a person to manage the money and assets of the minor as well as take your place in parenting your child. People who share similar values, parenting styles and goals should be an obvious choice to be the person who would step in and serve as your child's parent. Considering someone who is young enough and physically capable of being the guardian until your children reach adulthood is another priority. These are typically the most difficult decisions to make when preparing an estate plan, but this is a decision best made by you and not by the State of Texas.
What happens if I can't take care of my affairs because of accident or illness, but I am still alive?
Unfortunately, we all know the reality that a catastrophic accident or medical crisis resulting in a person permanently unconscious could happen at any time.
You will need a Durable Power of Attorney where you name the person who will act under authority given by you to manage your affairs and finances. Whoever you designate as your Agent will have the various rights and powers set out in the power of attorney. Simply, they act as if they are you, when making decisions under a Power of Attorney.
However, a separate Medical Power of Attorney will be required for another person to be appointed as your health care agent and make medical decisions on your behalf when you are not able to make your own decisions. Also, a Physicians Directive or Advance Directive is a document that tells the doctor or hospital your wishes about the type of medical care that you want to receive if you become incapable of making treatment decisions for yourself. You can request that health care providers administer or withdraw life sustaining treatment, meaning that you have decided to be put on life support or not, so that you can make the decision before hand and not leave some decision to pull the plug as a burden on your loved ones. These can cover late stages of terminal illness or states of unconsciousness where you are not expected to ever recover.
Every adult really needs to put these documents in place, as these are not just for elderly or sick people.
Call Jason S. English Law, PLLC and get a plan for you and your family's future.
Estate Planning FAQ's
I am thinking about an Estate Plan, Do I need both a Will and a Trust?
A will is recommended for anyone who has a spouse, children, or property. For some individuals, a trust may also be helpful in ensuring that their assets are handled and distributed according to their wishes. To learn more about what situations are best for a will or a trust, please click here.
If I already have an Estate Plan, do I really need to update it when I move to the state of Texas?
Texas law contains a number of provisions for simplifying the execution of a will that you may wish to take into consideration. In addition, you may wish to consider completing state-specific forms for such documents as powers of attorney. To learn more about the need to update your Estate Plan after moving to Texas, click here to learn more.
If I have been living with my partner for more than a decade, will Texas consider us married under common law for estate planning purposes?
Texas is a state that recognizes common-law marriage. However, the rules for common law marriage are much stricter than simply living together, and many couples will not qualify for estate planning purposes despite living together for years. As a rule, couples should not count on common-law marriage as an effective estate planning tactic. For more information on Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples, click here.
Curious whether a former spouse has a legal claim on your inheritance?
Texas law generally considers either spouse's inheritance to be separate, rather than community, property for the purposes of dividing assets during a divorce, but how the property is handled after it is inherited can complicate this general rule. After your divorce is finalized, it is time to do your Estate Planning After Divorce.
Why should I make an estate plan, even though I am young or in good health?
Despite the benefits of an Estate Plan, many people hesitate to address the questions that arise in estate planning. They might be afraid to bring them up with family members because these are difficult decisions to face, or because they think disputes may arise. However, waiting until a crisis is already at hand can often be even more problematic because emotions are heightened. Therefore, people may want to consider creating an estate plan while their mind and conscience are clear.
What is the difference between a medical power of attorney an advanced directive?
A medical power of attorney is one type of advance directive. A key aspect of this type is that the person who creates a medical power of attorney selects someone and entrusts that person with the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event that they become incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions themselves.
How do I ensure my children are taken care of if I die or become incapacitated?
Many people wrongly believe a guardian designation in their will is sufficient. In addition to designating a guardian for your children in your Last Will and Testament, a separate document, a Declaration of Guardian of Minor Children, allows a parent to name the person they want to care for their child if they become unable to do so themselves.