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
Who will manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated? If you plan for this possibility by creating a durable financial power of attorney (DPOA), you can choose that person. Ideally, you will select someone whom you can trust to protect your best interests at a time when you cannot speak for yourself. That person will be authorized to carry on your financial activities such as paying bills, selling property and taking care of tax responsibilities.
What if you do not create a DPOA for financial purposes? In that case, a court would need to appoint a guardian, who might not be your first choice. Expense, delays and trouble may await your family if you do not have or create a DPOA designating someone as your agent to manage your finances if it ever becomes necessary.
#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.