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Components of a Comprehensive Estate Plan

 Posted on December 11,2023 in Estate Planning

Denton County Estate Planning Attorney

Planning who will receive your assets and property upon your death is just one aspect of estate planning. Estate planning also involves deciding who will handle your finances and make medical decisions in the event that you are incapacitated.

A comprehensive estate plan will comprise several legal documents, along with beneficiary designations for certain accounts. This complex process is best handled by a Flower Mound estate planning attorney.

Last Will & Testament

Perhaps the most important document in a comprehensive estate plan, your will designates who will receive your assets and property when you die.

If your estate is probated, this legal document will tell the court who you want to be in charge of your estate (i.e., executor) and which beneficiaries will receive your assets. It also allows you to name a guardian to care for your children if they are still minors when you pass.

Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

A durable power of attorney (DPOA) gives another person the authority to handle your financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated or are deemed incompetent. This document can give another person the ability to make business decisions and convey property on your behalf.

You can specify whether your DPOA is effective immediately (upon your signing) or if it should take effect upon your incapacitation (known as a “springing clause.”) Be aware that some financial institutions may not accept a POA if it stipulates the latter.

A DPOA has to be in writing, and you must sign in front of a notary. You cannot sign a DPOA if you are not of sound mind, so persons who have a court-appointed guardian cannot execute a DPOA.

Advance Directive/Living Will

If you are incapacitated, you will not be able to make your own medical decisions. In an advance directive, you can name someone to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf.

You will want to discuss your medical wishes with whoever you appoint in your advance directive and your medical providers. If you do not want heroic measures to be taken, you should be straightforward about your wishes.

An advance directive may include a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, a Medical Power of Attorney, and an Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR).

HIPAA Authorization

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It is a federal law that protects sensitive patient information. Your medical information cannot be released without your written consent.

In signing a HIPAA authorization, you are giving another person the ability to obtain your medical records. This is especially important if you need care from a specialist who is requesting medical records held by your primary care doctor.

A durable power of attorney, advance directive, and HIPAA authorization are sometimes referred to as “living” documents since they only expire upon your death and can be revoked at any point during your lifetime.

Beneficiary Designations

If you have retirement accounts (i.e., 401(K)s, Traditional or Roth IRAs, and pensions), you will be able to designate a beneficiary. Beneficiary designations also apply to life insurance policies, known as a payable upon death (POD) designation.

If you have a revocable trust, your attorney may suggest that you name the trust as a beneficiary on one or several of these accounts. It is always in your best interest to discuss your full financial picture with a Denton County estate planning attorney before making any estate planning decisions.

Contact a Flower Mound, TX, Estate Planning Attorney Today

A comprehensive estate plan will vary based on each person’s financial situation and needs. You want your needs to be satisfied and your estate to be divided as you see fit. If you are searching for a Denton County, TX, estate planning attorney, Colbert Law Group PLLC is here to assist you. To schedule your evaluation, contact the office today online or by phone at 972-724-3338.

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