What documents are involved in estate planning?
Will: If you do not have a will in place in Texas, your property will likely be distributed based upon your blood relationships with people and not based on how well that person treated you or how much you cared for them. Your will allows you to designate how your property will be distributed after your death. A will is especially important for gay and lesbian couples to have in place to ensure their partners are provided for.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoint an agent to manage your financial affairs.
Medical Power of Attorney: This document allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You can also include a hospital visitation section to ensure that any of your loved ones who are not blood relatives--and who the hospital may not consider "family"--will be allowed to visit you. This is especially important for same-sex couples to have in place.
Living Will: This document is also known as the "Directive to Physicians." If you are in an end-of-life situation with no hope of recovery, this document allows you to indicate whether or not you would want life-sustaining treatment administered.
Declaration of Guardian for Minor Children: This document allows you to indicate who you would want to have phsical custody of your children if you are their last surviving parent.
What is Probate? After a person passes away, their Will is often filed with the Probate Court before their property can be distributed by their executor. There are also many alternatives to probate in Texas. I would be happy to discuss this process with you.
Estate Planning Needs Are Not One-Size-Fits-All
All families are different. There is no substitute for having an attorney learn about your family's specific needs and then create documents tailored to protect your family properly. Something as important as your Will or Powers of Attorney should not be entrusted to an online document mill.
It is faster and more cost effective to hire a competent attorney to draft your documents from the start than it is to hire an attorney to fix documents incorrectly done by a non-attorney.
After all, once you discover that the cookie cutter form from an online service was improperly done and is not effective or enforceable, it can be too late to repair the damage.
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