Wills and Estate Planning
Each state has different rules for the creation of wills and for probate. As long as your Will is well written, probate in Texas is usually a simple process. You may see marketing aimed at ‘avoiding probate’ by the creation of living trusts. That is a good idea in states where probate is complex. But, in Texas, under normal circumstances, the creation of a living trust is more expensive and cumbersome than the probate process. It is important to get advice that takes your particular circumstances and desires into account.
The links below set forth the information that we need to guide you through the process of preparing your Will and the routine ancillary documents. We do not do tax planning, but can offer you referrals to attorneys who do.
(Please click on a title below to learn more.)
Wills With Trusts
If you make a gift in your Will to a person younger than 18, it is normally a good idea to create a trust to avoid difficulties and expense in probate. There are many other reasons that you might want to leave an asset in trust. It is important to get advice that takes your particular circumstances and desires into account.
Powers of Attorney
Most of us will become disabled before we die. If a person has not executed a Power of Attorney before their disability, the courts will decide (in a guardianship proceeding) who will make important medical and legal decisions for the disabled person. Guardianship proceedings are incredibly expensive and stressful. To avoid that possibility, it is important to give careful consideration to who you trust to make decisions for you, as well as an alternate. Normally, separate powers of attorneys are created for medical decisions and for financial decisions. The agents and alternates may be the same people, or they may be different people, for the medical versus the financial power of attorney.
Designation of Guardian
In unusual circumstances, a family member might attempt to override a Power of Attorney by instituting a guardianship proceeding. In Texas, this possibility can be thwarted with the execution of a Designation of Guardian. In essence, a Designation of Guardian directs the court to name persons you have selected as your guardian and may specifically direct that the court avoid appointing other persons as your guardian. It is important to get advice that takes your particular circumstances and desires into account.
Advance Medical Directive
If you are disabled and cannot express yourself, your loved ones may be faced with the decision of whether or not to institute or to continue life-sustaining treatments. Texas law allows you to express your desires in advance. Expressing those desires in advance will give your loved ones some comfort at a very stressful time.
If the original of a well-drafted Will is available, probate in Texas is simple. If there are no debts owed by the estate (except debts secured by real estate), a very limited and inexpensive probate procedure is available. Even if there are debts, the probate procedure in Texas is fairly simple if you carefully select and name an Independent Executor of your estate.