Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Probate Avoidance in Texas
At some point we are all going to die. It’s inevitable. No one likes to talk about it, or even think about it, but it’s going to happen. And if you want to minimize the burden, headache, and confusion that your family will need to deal with after you are gone, you need to get your Will, Trust, and other estate planning documents drafted now.
Your Will is the foundation of your estate plan. It is a legal document that identifies who you want to receive (inherit) your real and personal property after you die. It designates an Executor to perform all of the acts necessary to comply with your final requests as detailed in your Will.
However, written instructions can be unclear, and Texas laws can be confusing. Additionally, all of the formal requirements detailed in the Texas Estates Code must be met for your Will to be legally valid in Texas. Without a properly executed Will the State will dictate how your assets and property will be distributed.
Trusts are a legal way to distribute your assets over a period of time and under your specific direction. For example, should you die with young children, you might not want your assets all given to them right away, or even at age 18. Many of my clients want their assets to be placed into a trust for the benefit of their children, not not given to the children outright. In this fashion we can direct the trustee to pay for educational expenses like tuition but then not distribute the balance of the trust funds until the children are older.
Trusts can also help protect assets from third parties, help qualify individuals and their family members for government benefits, and minimize exposure to estate taxes.
Power of Attorney and Probate Avoidance
Just as your Will is your written authorization for someone to do something on your behalf after you have DIED; your Power of Attorney is your written authorization for someone to act on your behalf while you are still LIVING. The following are a few of the most common Power of Attorney documents that we draft at the Burgfechtel Law Offices.
Medical Power of Attorney. A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint another person to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are not able to do so yourself. If you are in an accident, unconscious, suffering from dementia, or otherwise unable to make decisions about your healthcare, someone else will need to make those decisions on your behalf. Without a Medical Power of Attorney, your family will typically have to go through a guardianship action and the state will be left to decide who should make those decisions on your behalf. This can be avoided with a Medical Power of Attorney.
Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney, sometimes referred to as a POA for Financial Matters, is a vehicle whereby you can appoint someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. These appointments can be immediate, or can “spring” into effect at such time in the future as you direct (like when you become incapacitated). They can confer broad decision-making authority, or only authorize your agent to handle very limited or specific matters. But without one, your family will likely need to go through a guardianship legal proceeding when you are no longer able to make financial decisions without assistance.
Advanced Directives, also known as a “Living Will” lets your family and your doctors know what your wishes are regarding life support. Decisions regarding an end-of-life situation should be left up to the individual, not the courts. And asking a family member to guess what you would want to happen is an unfair and unnecessary burden to place upon them.
Digital assets and access to those assets upon death are something that is rarely thought of, but we have entered a digital age. Facebook profiles, Instagram, Apple, and a million other digital apps are a daily part of are lives. Many clients do not want those apps automatically sending reminders, automatically recommending posts, etc after they have died. Someone needs to be authorized to delete those accounts after you have died.
Other Estate Planning Services provided by the Burgfechtel Law Offices PLLC include TODD (transfer of death deed), Lady Bird Deeds, Living Trusts, and more.
FLAT FEE Options Available for most estate planning matters.
To speak with attorney R. Jeffrey Burgfechtel at the Burgfechtel Law Offices in Plano, Texas about the creation of a Will, Trust, or other probate avoidance legal document, call (972) 544-6565 today for a free phone consultation.