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Posted on in Estate Planning

flower mound estate planning lawyerIn a previous blog, we discussed incapacity planning. Incapacity planning is an important part of estate planning that involves planning for your own future care. The other part of estate planning - testamentary planning - is exactly what people think of when they hear the term “estate planning.” Testamentary planning is deciding during your lifetime who will receive your property when you pass away. 

The two main ways to accomplish this are through trusts and wills. Some people choose one or the other, and others use both. Which one will work better for you depends on a number of factors, such as the size of your estate and who your beneficiaries are. Our attorneys can work with you and help you determine which documents you need in your testamentary estate plan. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Will or a Trust

Each estate, each family, and each testator are unique. You will need to think about what your personal priorities are in estate planning. A few things to think about include: 

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Posted on in Estate Planning

denton county estate planning lawyerYou may or may not have heard the term “incapacity planning” before. Incapacity planning is a part of estate planning. It refers to making a plan for your own care in the event that you become incapacitated later in life. People are living much longer lives today than in the past. While this can provide a wonderful opportunity for many older adults to spend time with their children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, it also means that people are more likely to face age-related capacity issues. Alzheimer's, dementia, and other causes of mental decline related to aging are very common. It is important that people plan ahead for the possibility that they will face these or other medical concerns. An attorney can help you decide what documents you need and walk you through the process of making these very important decisions. 

What Documents Might I Use for Incapacity Planning?

A strong incapacity plan involves multiple documents that all serve distinct purposes. While it may sound complicated, a lawyer explain what each document does and why you need it. Some documents you might fill out during incapacity planning include: 

  • Advance directives - Advance directives might include documents like a living will and a DNR, if you want one. These documents let you state your wishes related to medical care in advance. For example, if you are incapacitated and diagnosed with a terminal illness, would you want life-prolonging treatments, or would you merely want to be kept comfortable? If you do not make these decisions for yourself, someone else will have to, and they may not understand your wishes. 

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The Texas probate courts facilitate the administration of any estates of those who have died as residents of the state. The probate courts help interpret and enforce state law and oversee the administration of estates to reduce mistakes and conflict.

Probate proceedings can have a negative impact on the total value of an estate. People may spend thousands of dollars on court and other probate expenses. Ultimately, those costs will diminish what heirs and beneficiaries receive from the estate.

For some individuals planning their estates, avoiding probate is a priority. When is probate necessary under Texas law?

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An estate plan isn’t just your will. You can add documents to protect yourself, not just to name a guardian for your children and to distribute property to the people you love if you die.

Powers of attorney are documents that could help in the event of some kind of emergency. If you are unable to speak on your own behalf, make decisions about your medical care or manage your financial circumstances, powers of attorney will give someone the authority to handle those matters for you.

A power of attorney could help if you experience incapacitation due to Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline as you age. It could also protect you if you get hurt at work or in a car crash. When do you need power of attorney? 

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You may already have a basic estate plan, and that’s great. It helps protect you and the people you care about if you’re injured or pass away.

That estate plan should be thought of as a living entity, though. Your life is always changing, and your wishes may change, too. As a result, it’s necessary to go back and look at your estate plan every so often to be sure that it’s still protecting you and your loved ones in the way that you want.

Reviewing your estate plan

There are some people who will tell you to review your plan annually or every few years. Others will suggest reviewing your estate plan only after major events.

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There are so many excuses people can invent to justify procrastinating about estate planning. Most people think that if they are getting ready to retire or don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property that they don’t really need to estate plan.

However, there are many times in your life when having an estate plan is crucial for you and the people you love. Having a plan in place when you encounter any of the four situations below will do a lot to provide you peace of mind and protect your loved ones.

When you become a parent

Adding a new remember to your family through birth, marriage or adoption is an incredible experience. All of the joy of new parenthood also comes with the stress of parental obligations.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

For many people, trusts are synonymous with the incredibly wealthy. Many people overlook the potential benefits of integrating a trust to their estate plan because they assume that only someone with millions of dollars worth of assets needs a trust.

Trusts are actually powerful legal tools that can help people in everyday circumstances, including those planning their estate or those looking forward to the care they will need at the end of their life. What do people use trusts for?

People use trusts to have control over their legacy

People recognize a trust as a tool that helps people pass on their property to others and financially support their loved ones. Other people may use a trust to set aside resources for a charity.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

When you think about planning for the future, you may dream of going on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or saving for retirement or college for your children. You may not consider how important it is to have an estate plan for your future too.

If you haven’t made an estate plan yet to plan for the future, you are not alone. Unfortunately, only 32% of Americans say they have a will or other estate planning documents, according to a 2020 Caring.com survey. Of those surveyed, a majority of people say they just haven’t made estate planning a priority, even though they know it’s important.

The importance of having an estate plan

Everyone can benefit from having an estate plan, not just those who are wealthy. With an estate plan, you give your family direction about your wishes. You get to choose who will receive your assets and your heirloom items in your will. You can name a guardian for your underage or special needs children and establish a trust to provide for them. You can direct that some of your assets go to your favorite charity. Without a will, Texas law will decide how to distribute your assets.

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