Wills and Estate Planning
Planning for the future is important. Ensuring that your estate is secure, however, can be difficult. There are many things to take into consideration to properly protect your estate and interests in case something were to happen to you. Even when we have already taken the time to prepare these documents correctly, circumstances and relationships change, which may require us to change aspects of our estate planning documents. For example, a divorce may lead you to change the status of your former spouse in an existing will, trust, or powers of attorney.
The Sinclair Law Office, PC can help you figure out how to secure your estate. Our attorneys work with you to identify what kinds of protection your estate may need and can help ensure that you have planned for every legal possibility. Having access to an attorney during this process can reduce the confusion and ensure that your estate and interests are secured.
Estate Documents in Texas
There are many different kinds of estate documents in the state of Texas. Which documents you need, or which ones you need to modify, depends on a variety of factors in your life. Some documents that most people may require include:
- Revocable Living Trust
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- HIPAA Release
- Directive to Physicians
- Declaration of Guardian
- Designation of Agent for Disposition of Remains
Each of these documents serve specific purposes. Your Will directs how your property will be distributed after you die. You can also use a Will to establish a trust for your children or spouse. Additionally, your Will establishes a person to be in charge of implementing your Will. This individual is the executor of the Will. If you have children, then your Will can also name a guardian to care for your children. Without a Will, state laws direct how these issues are resolved, which may or may not match your desires.
A Revocable Living Trust, like a Will, directs how your property will be distributed. However, you have more control over the timing of and requirements for distributions made through a trust. If funded properly, a trust may also provide more protections for your trust beneficiaries and avoid the need for your estate to be probated. Many times, you can retain control over all of the assets transferred to the trust during your lifetime. A successor trustee automatically takes control of the assets in your trust upon your death or incapacity with no court intervention necessary.
The durable power of attorney allows you to appoint somebody that you trust to manage your finances in the event that you are unable to on your own. A medical power of attorney is very similar. It enables you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Without these documents, those decisions may fall to a person or entity that you did not choose.
In some circumstances, there may be certain decisions that you are sure of far in advance. With a directive to physicians, you can make your end of life choices about artificial life support. If you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition and cannot communicate your wishes, a directive lets your healthcare professionals know whether to withhold or continue life-sustaining treatment. A directive to physicians exists to eliminate the need for a loved one to make that difficult decision. A declaration of guardian tells the court who you want as a guardian of your person and of your estate if you ever need a guardian appointed. You can also expressly disqualify anyone you do not trust from becoming you guardian. This document typically prevents interfamily arguments if you need a fulltime caregiver. A designation of agent for disposition of remains appoints the individual you choose to handle all of your burial and funeral arrangements. Many people have specific burial instructions, and while many times these instructions are placed in a will, a will may not be probated until months after a funeral takes place. An agent designated specifically for this purpose simplifies the planning process for your family if you do not have a prepaid burial plan.
How We Can Help
The attorneys at the Sinclair Law Office, PC have helped many clients plan their estates. We can help you design and complete documents necessary to secure your interests and property. If you are planning your estate, then it is important that you work with a legal team that is experienced with the intricacies of the task. Every person’s estate is different, so you need an attorney who can work with you to understand your estate and circumstances so that you leave with the documents you need to protect the interests that matter.
Our team is also uniquely experienced with estate planning in preparation for or during a divorce. We have helped many of our clients who are going through a divorce change their estate documents. Changes to these legal documents due to a divorce can be a sensitive issue. Having an experienced attorney is one way of ensuring that the right steps are taken and done correctly, especially in the context of a larger legal proceeding.