Wills And Powers Of Attorney
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 family’s 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. Preparing this series of legal documents enables you to absolutely ensure that in the event of incapacity or death, your 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 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 ensuring 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 to create a trust for children or other relatives; and others with unique or unusual circumstances. A will prepared in another state should be redrafted to ensure compliance with Texas law.
- Durable power of attorney — A legal document and a written authorization in which you appoint an agent to represent or act on your behalf in private affairs or matters of business, finances or some other legal issue. It may be general or limited. Any act that would otherwise legally be done by you is instead handled by your agent and is granted by a general durable power of attorney. A limited durable power of attorney, on the other hand, only covers specific events, such as making health care decisions on your behalf, initiating the sale of real estate or physical property, or even making investments on your behalf.
- Medical power of attorney — A legal document that is signed by a competent adult in which you designate a person that you trust (also referred to as your ‘agent’) to represent or act on your behalf on health care decisions or medical matters only in the event that you are no longer able to make such decisions on your own. All powers of attorney, including the statutory durable power of attorney above and the medical power of attorney, are valid only during the principal’s life. If the principal has died, the power of attorney is no longer valid.
- Directive to physicians (aka 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 advance 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.
Creating Wills And Powers Of Attorney
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 ensure 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 can also cause disputes among your surviving family members. A judge who knows nothing about you or your family will make decisions that 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
For information about our thorough yet inexpensive Peace of Mind Package, click here.