Advanced directives allow you to spell out your wishes concerning your medical treatment at the end of your life.
Similar to a Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney authorizes someone else to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
A Power of Attorney is a written document that authorizes another person to act on behalf of someone else in financial or business matters.
A trust is a complicated and expensive document that is created by a person during their lifetime. Many estates do not require a trust; however, there are certain situations, such as if a relative has a medical condition and receives government assistance, or if a person cannot be trusted to have control over a large inheritance, when a trust is beneficial.
A trust is similar to a Will in that it directs how property will be distributed. However, a trust is a more flexible arrangement and involves three people: the trust-maker, the trustee (the person who will handle the assets placed in the trust), and the beneficiaries (the people who receive assets in the trust). Assets can be transferred to a trust during the trust-maker’s lifetime, or at their death.
A Last Will and Testament, known simply as a Will, is a legal document by which a person appoints the Executor of their estate, a Guardian for any minor children, and directs how property will be distributed upon their death.
While a DIY computer program might seem to save you money in the short-term, a mistake in your Will or Trust could have significant consequences. Something minor, like a misplaced comma or a missing signature, can alter the intent of a legal document or even void the document altogether. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney will give you peace of mind in knowing that your estate planning documents were prepared properly.
In certain circumstances (usually if the estate is very small) it is possible to avoid probate. Nonetheless, there are forms that need to be completed and filed with the probate court regardless of the size of the estate.
It is also possible to avoid probate through the use of a trust; however, the deceased person’s Will will still need to be submitted to the probate court, and there are often assets that will still need to pass through probate.
With a few exceptions, everyone must go through probate. While certain assets can pass outside of the probate process, and some people may be exempt, there are still documents that must be submitted to the probate court. An experienced Texas probate lawyer can advise you on whether your estate is exempt and what assets can be passed outside of probate.
Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone dies. If the person left a Will, it involves proving that the Will is valid, identifying and taking an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and debts, notifying any interested parties, and distributing the remaining property according the the deceased person’s Last Will and Testament or relevant state law.