Wills and Estate Planning

Regardless of the size of your estate, it is important that you have a plan in place. A Will is often the cornerstone of an estate plan and is used to express your wishes as to how your property will pass at your death and to designate the individual (or individuals) who will have the responsibility to carry out those wishes. Wills may also be used to designate guardian preferences for minor or disabled children and to establish trusts for children, aging parents, or other family members. However, an estate plan should go beyond just having a Will and incorporate documents that will assist your loved ones in taking care of you should you become incapacitated. Every family is unique and an estate plan should be tailored to your specific circumstances and goals.

Without a Will, a trust, or other estate planning documents in place, the State of Texas will dictate what happens to your property. In addition, when someone passes without a Will, the administration of that person’s estate may be more expensive at the outset because the court will have to judicially determine the person’s legal heirs, and a dispute may arise among family members as to who should serve as the administrator of the estate.

Depending on where you are in your life (e.g., single, married, young children, grown children, blended family, nearing retirement, or golden years), you will have different contingencies that you need to anticipate and plan for. It is also important to understand how your estate plan works in conjunction with beneficiary designations on financial accounts and life insurance policies. Finally, everyone — not just those with known health concerns — should have a plan in place in the event you should become incapacitated.

My basic estate planning package includes the following documents:

  • Last Will and Testament (with or without testamentary trusts for children or other family members)
  • Declaration of Appointment of Guardian (for minor children and/or for self)
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
  • HIPAA Authorization to Release Medical Information
  • Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains

Standalone trusts (revocable and irrevocable) and more complex planning may also be appropriate and will be prepared on an as needed basis. I will walk you through this process to help you understand these tools that are available to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

If done correctly and thoughtfully, your estate plan will alleviate the financial and legal impact of your death or incapacitation on your loved ones and give you peace of mind that you and your loved ones will receive proper care and assistance in the event tragedy should strike. To schedule a consultation, please call me at (713) 588-9550 or email me at trisha@trishaenglishlaw.com.