Estate Planning and Probate Avoidance
Here are the two most important things to know about Texas wills and estate planning:
1. You can utilize specific Texas laws to keep your estate out of probate and in the family;
2. You can only use these special procedures if you have a current will.
Everyone needs a current, valid Texas estate plan.
Wills & Trusts
The State of Texas has many different ways to handle property and finances after death. If you have a will and estate plan prepared to take advantage of these processes, your heirs may be able to avoid formal probate (i.e. court involvement) entirely. The keys to this process are (1) have an estate plan in place and (2) make sure that your documents are drafted to take advantage of these state-specific laws. Often, documents prepared in other states will not have the language you need to utilize the Texas procedures. Our will and estate planning attorneys are ready to assist you and answer your questions.
Whether or not a probate process is needed after your death, having a well-prepared last will and testament will assure you that your financial assets and family heirlooms will pass to the loved ones of your choosing. Estate planning documents ensure that your minor children and grandchildren are appropriately cared for after your passing.
We offer estate planning services for most non-taxable estates on a flat fee basis for both individuals and couples. We also offer more advanced planning processes involving more complex trusts or family limited partnerships.
We are happy to assist you in preparing your will and estate plan. Contact our office for more information and details about how to get started.
Powers of Attorney (Financial, Health Care & Child Care)
A power of attorney allows another person to make financial decisions, medical decisions or both for you. You can set up a power of attorney to work only if you are incapacitated, only for a specific event (such as a real estate closing while you are out of town), or the power of attorney may be created to be effective all of the time.
Another power of attorney often requested by clients is for child care. A child care power of attorney is often used by parents whose child is going to travel out of state or out of the county (perhaps on vacation with friends or extended family) or whose child will be staying with others locally while the parents are away. A child care power of attorney gives the child permission to travel and also gives the caregivers the ability to make emergency medical decisions in the event the parents cannot be reached.
Powers of attorney are an extremely important part of the estate planning process. Therefore, we automatically include them (if you so elect) in every estate planning process, often for no additional fee. Of course, if you need to create or update one or more powers of attorney on a stand-alone basis (separate from an estate planning process), we stand ready to assist you with your needs.
Directive to Physicians (also referred to as a Living Will or Advanced Directive)
A directive to physicians (in other states also referred to as a living will or advanced directive) allows you to make specific decisions about whether or not you wish to utilize certain kinds of advanced healthcare methods (e.g. artificial breathing machines, intravenous feeding, dialysis treatment) if you are experiencing a terminal or irreversible medical condition. The specific directions you set forth in a directive to physicians override the medical power attorney and ensures your wishes are carried out, even if you are not able to communicate or make decisions.
As with powers of attorney, we include the option to create a directive to physicians in our estate planning process, often for no additional fee. Also as with powers of attorney, if you need to create or update a directive to physicians on a stand-alone basis (separate from an estate planning process), we are happy to assist you.
Probate refers generally to the process of settling the debts and transferring the assets of a deceased family member or loved one. The State of Texas has many different ways to handle property and finances after death. Thanks to the laws of this state, many people are able to informally probate the estate of a loved one with no court involvement at all. Other procedures exist, when necessary, to probate an estate with only limited court involvement. When dictated by circumstance, traditional probate procedures involving full court oversight are also available.
If you are dealing with or about to undertake the probate process for a loved one’s estate, contact us to discuss the many options of the Texas probate process.
Schedule your consultation online now to discuss your questions with our will and estate planning attorneys.