They say the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. Most of us prepare our taxes every year but about half of us do not plan for the other certainty. Some of us may face incapacity at any time in our lives. These circumstances can be overwhelming for our loved ones in the best of circumstances, but if we failed to plan for them in advance, the results can be devastating. The case will go to court where a judge who doesn't know you or your circumstances will make all the decisions which will affect your families lives for the rest of their days.
If you own anything, and especially if you have children, it is essential for each adult in the family to have a package of certain documents. It is the preparation of this series of legal documents which enable the preparer to absolutely insure that in the event of incapacity or death, his or her wishes are precisely followed, almost as if you were still there. Without these documents, the grieving loved ones might face even well-intentioned family disputes regarding the care of minor children, the distribution of assets, or your own care, in the event of incapacity. These documents, all of which are included in our Peace of Mind Package TM - are:
- Simple Will - A legal document which spells out how you want your personal property distributed after your death, who/what are your beneficiaries, who will care for your minor children, and who will be your executor, the person who is legally responsible for insuring your wishes are carried out. A Simple Will may not be adequate for those with substantial assets which may require estate or income taxes; those wishing a trust for children or other relatives; and others with unique or unusual circumstances. A will prepared in another state should be redrafted to insure compliance with Texas law.
- Durable Power of Attorney - A legal document which is a written authorization in which you appoint an agent to represent or act on your behalf in private affairs, business, financial, or some other legal matter. It may be general or limited. A general durable power of attorney may allow your agent to do every act which may legally be done by you. A limited durable power of attorney cover specific events, like selling property, making investments, or making health care decisions.
- Medical Power of Attorney - A legal document in which you appoint an agent to represent or act on your behalf on health care or medical matters only. It is a document, signed by a competent adult designating a person that the he/she trusts to make health care decisions on the principal's behalf should the principal be unable to make such decisions.
- Directive to Physicians (a.k.a. Living Will) - A legal document that a person uses to make known his or her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. It allows you to express your wishes to doctors in case you become incapacitated. In a living will, you can outline whether or not you want your life to be artificially prolonged in the event of a devastating illness or injury. It is often combined with a Medical Power of Attorney (above) that allows you to designate someone to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. The Living Will and the Medical Power of Attorney together make up what's called an advanced health care directive.
- HIPAA Release - HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which protects personal health information privacy. Without a HIPAA release, health care providers will not be able to share any information regarding your condition to your loved one or agent.
- Organ donation directive (if desired)
There are many benefits to having a properly drafted will. You will gain peace of mind knowing your wishes are in writing. The process may be easier for your family. The lawyers at Patricia L. Brown & Associates can help you plan for the future, ensure a positive financial outlook for your beneficiaries and assist in matters.
Talk to one of our lawyers about your estate planning or questions. Call us toll free at 866-369-3211 or locally at 512-436-0826.
Creating Wills and Trusts
One of our attorneys will conduct a detailed interview and review all your finances,assets, and any other relevant information. From there, we will draft a will, powers of attorney, and the other relevant documents that can insure all your wishes are carried out. These documents can detail the beneficiaries of your assets, provide guardianship for your children, and make clear your wishes should you be medically incapacitated.
Benefits of Planning
Without a plan, your wishes become irrelevant following your incapacitation or death. It It can also cause disputes among your surviving family members. A judge who knows nothing about you or your family will make decisions which will affect your loved ones for the rest of their lives Without these documents, health care decisions may not be made in a timely manner, or according to your wishes. If you do not have a plan and your estate goes into probate, the process is much longer and could cost more money to resolve challenges to your estate. Our attorneys have significant experience protecting our clients' rights in the process. We strive to settle the final affairs of your loved one's estate in as seamless a manner as possible.
Contact Will and Powers of Attorney Lawyers Serving Williamson County and Beyond
For information about our thorough yet inexpensive Peace of MindTM Package, click here.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a lawyer regarding wills and powers of attorney, please contact us.