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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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