Estate Planning Attorney Based in Denton County
Perhaps the most universally necessary and commonly neglected legal need is estate planning. More than half of the individuals residing in the state of Texas have no Will or other estate documents. Without a Will, there is no guarantee that your property will be transferred to the people you would have chosen following your death, that your property or assets will be maintained, that your desired burial requests will be adhered to, or that your spouse and children will be provided and cared for in your absence. In addition to a Will, there are several other estate planning documents that may be necessary to protect your medical needs or financial assets both during your life and after you pass away.
Recommended Estate Planning Documents
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament can be used to designate your desired burial plans, identify beneficiaries, specify the property items you wish to leave to your identified beneficiaries, create contingent trusts to manage the assets and funds awarded to your beneficiaries who are minors, elect primary and secondary executors to oversee the management of your estate, elect primary and contingent trustees to manage the contingent trusts established for minor beneficiaries, and establish primary and secondary guardians for your children. A Will is the primary document most people think of when they consider estate planning. However, many of the other recommended documents may be equally as important and may work in conjunction with the Will.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney can be used to establish agents to act on your behalf in financial matters in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to take action yourself. The Power of Attorney will allow you to designate the specific duties you want your agent to have and may include the ability to conduct business with banks, establish or manage a stock or bond portfolio, sell or maintain real property, manage social security, Medicaid or disability benefits, handle personal finance matters and mange retirement accounts and funds. The Durable Power of Attorney will also provide for the ability for your agent to make transfers of property during the term of your life, allowing you to avoid having to pay the estate taxes that would come with transferring the property after your death.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney is similar to a Durable Power of Attorney but will allow your designated agent to make medical, rather than financial, decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated. The Medical Power of Attorney will allow your agent to seek medical care for you in the event of illness, consent to surgical procedures, schedule routine check-ups, consider treatment options, apply for Medicaid or manage insurance policies.
Living Will or Directive to Physicians
The Living Will allows you to make an election to preemptively request or deny life-prolonging medical treatments in the event that the need for such treatment occurs when you are suffering from a terminal condition, such as liver cancer, or an irreversible condition, such as a prolonged comma, and your treating physician has advised that you will likely pass away within six months from that condition. This document can be used in conjunction with your Medical Power of Attorney. The execution of a Living Will takes the pressure off of the agent acting as your Medical Power of Attorney that comes with making such a heart wrenching decision. The document allows you to specifically identify those life-saving or prolonging measures that you object to.
HIPPA laws recently changed to provide for much more stringent requirements for releasing medical records. Under the new laws, it is extremely difficult for a third party relative or friend to obtain your medical records without having a document specifically releasing your medical records to that person. Of course, if you are incapacitated at the time the need to obtain these records arises, you will not be able to sign the necessary release to have those medical records provided to the necessary parties. This document should be executed along with your Medical Power of Attorney to be used in conjunction with it to allow your designated agent to obtain, review and evaluate your medical records in order to make an informed decision about your medical care.
Estate Planning in North Texas
You may have questions about your situation, as every family is different. Brandi understands this and offers a free initial consultation to help set your mind at ease and provide you some legal guidance from the start. If you are in Denton, Aubrey, Pilot Point, Sanger, Krum, Carrollton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Anna, McKinney, Allen, The Colony, Gainesville, Dallas, or any of the other surrounding areas, call today to schedule a free consultation with Brandi at (940) 372-0931 or by filling out the online contact form.