Build A Strong Estate Plan With Five Strategies
Although we fully customize each estate plan to our clients’ individual needs, the essentials of a basic estate plan are common to most Texas residents. Within these steps, we have the legal knowledge to personalize the degree of complexity or simplicity that may best serve you.
Each component of an estate plan serves a specific purpose — from setting forth treatment preferences in the case of serious illness to providing a means to protect assets for your intended beneficiaries and family members. We recommend establishing the following five essentials of a Texas estate plan.
#1: Wills And Trusts
A last will and testament is the cornerstone of any basic estate plan, but it is only one of several options to ensure your assets pass to your intended beneficiaries. A will is useful for many modest estates because it is a cost-effective means that promotes the efficient administration of your assets at your death. It also gives you the option to specify your wishes regarding asset division, guardianship of your children and charitable gifts.
In many cases, a trust can be used in lieu of a will. A trust can provide additional protection for assets and avoid the necessity of probate at your death. Furthermore, trusts can be utilized to aid a child with special needs throughout their lifetime. Our attorney can discuss the types of trusts that may be right for you at your initial consultation.
#2: Durable Financial Power Of Attorney
Regardless of the size of the estate — be it $50,000 or $5,000,000 — everyone should make legal plans to handle a possible future illness or incapacity. If you become incapacitated, you need someone trustworthy to pay your bills, handle your finances, file your taxes and to carry on your financial existence.
If you do not enact a legal plan in advance, the only alternative may be for a court to appoint a guardian. This is slow and quite expensive. Many people correctly prefer to sign a durable power of attorney (DPOA) naming an “agent” to handle their finances.
#3: Medical Power Of Attorney
Like the durable financial power of attorney, a person with the medical power of attorney can make important decisions for your health care treatment on your behalf in the event you are unable to make your own decisions. Their authority does not activate unless you become legally incapable of communicating these wishes on your own.
#4: Living Will
A living will, which can also be referred to as a health care directive, describes your vital medical choices. This may include your end-of-life preferences regarding life support, resuscitation and treatment for pain.
#5: Individualized Provisions To Protect Assets
No estate plan is complete without first considering your unique assets and property. Certain assets, such as a business or property, may call for special protective measures beyond a basic will or trust.