Estate Planning – Wills, Powers of Attorney and Deeds – Oh My!

It’s nearing the end of the year, a great time to get your will and personal papers in order.  Instead of using your new-year’s resolution to remind you to do this next year, do it now! It’s easy and won’t take as much time as you think.  So what’s involved?


A will simply handles your property and debts after you pass on.  A goal of most simple estate planning is to have as much of your property as possible handled outside the will.  For example, insurance has designated beneficiaries so funds are paid outside the will.  Many retirement accounts also have designated beneficiaries.  The will acts as a catch-all for any property and debts not handled outside the will. Wills in Texas can be handwritten, but they cannot be made orally.

Wills in Texas can be handwritten. A handwritten will is valid as long as there is not a single typewritten word in the document. Click To Tweet

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney allows someone to make decisions and take action for you. The most common are the durable power of attorney which allows someone to handle your business, and the medical power of attorney allowing medical decisions to be made when you’re not able to.  They’re important so your business and affairs can be taken care of if you are unable to handle them or make decisions yourself.  A medical power of attorney is often paired with a physician’s directive, which tells medical providers your wishes about your care and treatment.  Together, these documents as a group are sometimes referred to as a “living will”.

A transfer on death deed allows your home or other real estate to transfer immediately at your death - without probate. Click To Tweet

Transfer on Death Deed

This deed is a relatively new addition to estate planning.  It allows you to designate who you want your homestead and other real property to go to when you pass away.  A beneficiary simply files a death certificate, and title passes.  Real estate is transferred outside the will – no probate, no affidavits of heirship, and less paperwork and time to transfer title. Title does not transfer until a death certificate is filed, so you are free to revoke the deed or file different deeds if your estate plan changes.

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