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Of the many courses of action involved in the process of estate planning, there are several documentation types that need to be addressed throughout. Wills, trusts, forms, and other official materials are vital in achieving a properly established estate plan. In general, most new clients assert they do not have a prepared estate plan, but are surprised to learn that there is one in place for them regardless; if no planning is done manually by the persons affected, the estate in question will be distributed after death according to laws of intestacy instituted by the government of Texas.
This is why Estate Planning is important! Although the statutes may seem reassuring to some, to others it can be concerning if the statutes automatically put in place are not ideal for certain familial situations. Therefore, a properly drafted, thorough estate plan will replace the intestacy statutes from the state of Texas with your own custom requirements and sanctions.
With such an arduous process, you don’t need to go through estate planning all on your own. At Robbins Estate Law you can attain all the help you need in order to draft the perfect estate plan. Contact us today!
Below is a checklist of documents you will need on your estate planning journey. Our services provide a comprehensive preparation process and all the guidance you’ll need to help you with your estate planning.
Our Estate Planning Services
- Your Last Will and Testament
- Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Documents (or Advance Directives)
1. Your Last Will and Testament
If you want to construct a comprehensive estate plan, your last will and testament is only one part of it (contrary to popular belief)! If a person dies without an official will, the state laws determine that they have died “intestate,” which results in Texas statutes having the final say on the distribution of the person’s assets.
- Under the law, a will only has legal authority after the person’s death. This means that if that person is incapacitated in any way by illness or injury, then a will is not able to move forward with any desired proceedings.
- Even before a will has any legal authority, it must be delivered to the probate court to be validated. An attorney must be hired, and testimony must be given regarding the contents of the will in question. Then, the probate judge will admit the will into probate which gives it the appropriate legal authority.
- If the person has any minor children, a will is a recommended legal document to select your preferred guardians to take over the care of your children in case they become orphaned. This nomination of legal guardians is a process every parent should go through, to ensure that the custody of their children does not pass to the wrong guardians.
2. Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.
A trust is defined as a legal entity, which involves three distinct aspects in the arrangement: the trust-maker, the trust manager, and the trust beneficiary (these can consist of only one person married couple). Trusts are created in a variety of formats, and they vary in terms of complexity and the purposes they serve. In general, these purposes include personal, tax, legal, or investment-related reasons. Below is a list of some examples of trusts:
- Revocable Living Trust
- Irrevocable Trust
- Testamentary Trust
- Special Needs Trust
- Et cetera
Why is establishing a trust important in estate planning? There are several pros to creating one, including the protection of assets from any applicable creditors, the avoidance of probate court (unlike wills), the avoidance of costly taxes on the estate, and the protections needed in case of a divorce. It can also continue to have legal authority in the case that the trust-maker becomes incapacitated.
3. Powers of Attorney
An important legal document to consider in estate planning is the power of attorney, which has the ability to give someone the legal right to accomplish certain tasks for you, depending on the document’s terms that you have specified (which can be very broad or very limited). This type of legal document terminates when the person who established it dies or even when they become incapacitated. In such cases where the maker is unable to communicate or decide on their own matters, it is recommended to use a durable power of attorney to assign your backup agent to make decisions on your behalf. Make sure that this specific document is regularly updated to avoid scrutiny and hesitation from financial institutions when the time comes to utilize it.
4. Health Care Documents (or Advance Directives)
An advance directive is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care you would want should you lose the ability to make and communicate your own decisions. Anyone over the age of 18 may execute an advance directive, and this document is legally binding in Texas. Your advance directive can specify who will make and communicate decisions for you, and it can set out the circumstances under which you would not like your life to be prolonged if, for example, you were in a coma with no reasonable chance of recovery.
A document that goes hand-in-hand with your advance directive is authorization to your medical providers to allow specified individuals to access your medical information. Without this authorization, your doctor may refuse to communicate with your hand-picked decision-maker.
Our Estate Planning Process
Here is what you can expect when you trust us with your estate plan.
- Get in touch with us! Give us a call or fill out a contact form
- Schedule a free phone consultation
- From there, we schedule an estate planning strategy session, usually in person or via Zoom. This is an hour and a half session to get to know each other, go over your specific family needs and desires, and to create an estate plan that works for you.
- Once we’ve got a plan designed, one month later we will schedule a review that can be done over the phone or in-person to explain your documents in detail. This is your opportunity to make changes to your decisions, ask more questions and get a comprehensive understanding of your plan.
- When you know the plan is perfect, we schedule a date for you to come in and sign your document! Our staff is happy to serve as your witnesses, so there’s no need to worry about rounding up any other friends or family members.
- That’s it! Once signed, we scan your plan so that you have an electronic copy, answer any last questions you might have, and congratulate you on getting your estate plan in place. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family.