Helping You Plan For The Future With Estate Planning
A common misconception is that estate planning is only for the wealthy. The truth is that everyone should have a plan detailing their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets upon death, temporary or permanent incapacity, and stating their wishes for the future of their minor children if they are unable to care for them.
Establishing your estate plan while you are still healthy gives you the power to decide how you want your affairs handled if you are unable to handle them yourself. Without a plan, the decision-making power rests with other people who may or may not have your best interests at heart.
Tailoring An Estate Plan To Fit Your Needs
There is no “one-size-fits-all” estate plan. When you come to the Brock Zettle, we will visit with you and consider your overall estate (all property that you own or may inherit) in light of your needs and desires. We take the time to listen to you and create a customized estate plan based on your wishes and objectives. To ensure all areas of your estate plan are covered, we will work in conjunction with your financial adviser, accountant or other trusted advisor in order to obtain a thorough picture of your personal and business needs.
Everyone should have a basic estate plan that includes:
- Last will and testament
- Durable power of attorney
- Medical (or health care) power of attorney
- Directive to physicians (also known as living wills)
- HIPAA authorization (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)
Depending on your unique circumstances, other documents may be appropriate, such as:
- Living trust (revocable inter vivos (living) trust)
- Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incapacity or Need of Guardian
- Declaration of Appointment of Guardian for My Children in the Event of my Death or Incapacity
- Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains
- Survivorship agreement
Answers To Common Questions About Wills And Estate Plans
As your legal advocates, we will review your situation, advise you of your options and create a tailored estate plan to accomplish all of your estate planning goals. Following are common questions we hear.
What Is A Last Will And Testament?
A will is a legal declaration of your wishes regarding the disposition of your real and personal property after your death. We can customize a will to suit your specific needs, whatever they may be. In Texas, a will can:
- Appoint a guardian for your minor children
- State your wishes for the disposition of your remains
- Establish a trust for your intended heirs and beneficiaries, such as a spouse, a minor child, a parent or a special needs individual
- Authorize a money-saving “independent” probate estate administration
- Waive the requirement of a bond by your executor
How Does A Durable Power Of Attorney (DPOA) Work?
In a DPOA, you give someone the authority to conduct your financial affairs on your behalf. It gives your agent, subject to the limits you establish, authority to manage your property. A powerful and important document, the DPOA is either effective the moment it is signed or when you become incapacitated.
You can give your agent the power to sign checks for you, sign your tax return, sell your home, change beneficiary designations of retirement plans and life insurance policies, fund a living trust, and more. However, it is important to give these powers to your agent while you have the mental capacity to do so. This helps avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian in the event of incapacity, which can be an expensive, unpredictable and time-consuming process.
As your attorneys, we will help you determine what powers are best to give to your agent and when to give him or her those powers.
Do I Need A Medical Power Of Attorney (MPOA)?
In an MPOA (also known as a health care power of attorney), you give your agent the power to make your health care decisions when you are unable to communicate your own wishes. It is common for your personal physician or hospital to ask for a copy of your MPOA before you are admitted to the hospital or for outpatient surgery. However, it’s also important in emergency situations when you may not be with your personal physician.
How Is A Directive To Physicians Helpful To Me?
The Directive to Physicians (or living will) is probably the most difficult and emotionally charged estate planning document an individual can sign. In Texas, this document expresses your wishes about whether you do or do not want life-sustaining treatment if you are in a “terminable condition” or an “irreversible condition.”
The directive does not authorize anyone to act on your behalf or make decisions the way a MPOA would. Instead, it is a document in which you express your wishes to your family and physicians about life-sustaining treatment.
If you have ever had to make a decision to turn off a family member’s life support without the advantage of prior discussions on that subject, you may have questioned whether you made the right decision. You can help reduce your family member’s anxiety by stating your treatment preferences in your living will.
If you have a medical condition for which you are receiving specific medical treatment, we will customize your living will to state whether you do or do not want to continue receiving that specific medical treatment if you have a terminal or irreversible condition.
What Is A HIPAA Authorization?
The HIPAA authorization under 45 C.F.R. Sec. 164.508 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) authorizes your health care providers to disclose your health care information to the persons you have listed on your HIPAA authorization form.
HIPAA is essentially a privacy law, passed to help safeguard your private health care information. Without a signed HIPAA authorization, your health care provider cannot discuss your health information with other individuals.
Typically, the persons named on your HIPAA authorization are the persons named on your medical power of attorney and any other family members or friends who you want to have access to your health care information.
Sound Advice ~ Professional Care ~ Experienced Guidance
When you are ready to discuss your estate and inheritance matters with our Flower Mound estate planning lawyers at Brock Zettle, call 972-843-5303 or complete a brief online form to schedule an initial consultation.