Preparation might be the greatest gift you can give your family during time of grief and confusion.
A will is a legal instrument that describes how a person’s property will be disbursed following death. A will must be in writing. Unless the will is entirely drafted in the deceased person’s handwriting, the will should be witnessed with a self proving affidavit. A typical will describes the heirs, the property, who should serve as the administrator, how the property will be disbursed, and any special wishes (i.e., identify a guardian for minor children). Although the will is a fairly simple document, it is a formal document. The will is only valid if drafted, executed, witnessed, and acknowledged properly. Bret can help you draft and correctly execute a will today.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
The most commonly used Power of Attorney in Texas is a Statutory Power of Attorney under Estates Code Chapter 752. A Power of Attorney permits one person (the “Principal”) the ability to give another person (the “Agent”) power to act on the Principal’s behalf. The Power of Attorney can be limited to specific tasks or actions that the Principal wishes the Agent to do. When a Principal allows an Agent to act on his/her behalf, a fiduciary relationship is created. The Agent must act in good faith, do nothing beyond the authority granted in the Power of Attorney, act loyally for the Principal’s benefit, avoid conflicts, and give proper disclosures of the relationship to 3rd parties. An Agent may also need to maintain records and provide an accounting to the Principal. A durable Power of Attorney stays effective even if the Principal becomes disabled or incapacitated. A Power of Attorney can be used to sell property, run a business, pay bills, and sign many legal documents. can help you decide if a Power of Attorney is needed, and he can help you draft and properly execute the Power of Attorney.
REVOCABLE LIVING TRUSTS
A revocable living trust allows an individual to maintain control of assets during life and, inter alia, avoid probate after death. The probate process can be expensive, especially for those that own property in more than one state. When a revocable living trust is used, the title to assets are transferred out of the individual’s name into the trust. The basic idea is that the individual, when he/she dies, will own nothing in his/her own name — and therefore probate can often be avoided. There are some special types of revocable trusts that allow the trust to be used for post-death protection against creditors of the beneficiaries (Spendthrift Trust), to maximize tax benefits, as a vehicle for life insurance or other benefits, etc. A revocable trust should not be used by everyone, but it can very effective for many. We can help you determine if a revocable living trust is right for you and your family.
An Advance Directive “is designed to help you communicate your wishes about medical treatment at some time in the future when you are unable to make your wishes known because of illness or injury.” See Texas Health and Safety Code 166.033. If an Advance Directive is in place, then a competent and able person will still make his/her own health care decisions. However, if a person is unable to make medical decision because of illness or injury then the directive will describe to the physician how care should be implemented. Other similar documents (with different purposes and objectives) are a Medical Power of Attorney and Out-of-Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order. Bret can help you determine what documents you need to ensure that your health is handled in accordance with your wishes, at all times.