By: Leslie Barrows
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Texas wills and estate planning for everyone, all adults
Why do people wait for a vacation overseas to contact their family attorney to update their wills and estate planning documents? Leaving a friend or neighbor in charge of taking in the mail, watering lawns or feeding the dog while we are out of town for a week or two is one thing. What happens in the case you cannot make it back as scheduled, or are unable to communicate or worse? Because we cannot control the world, we plan for emergencies. Looking at facts and statistics, most emergencies do not happen in the course of a vacation to Europe or Mexico, they happen within a few miles of home. Texas wills and estate planning are for everyone.
Another misconception some people have is that estate planning is only for the rich. You certainly do not have to be an oil baron in order to require a few estate-planning documents that protect you and your family in the case of your temporary or permanent incapacity. Think of how many privacy laws for our protection render us frozen in the event we cannot sign for things or access systems just to pay bills and keep the lights on if we cannot do it ourselves.
Divorce, custody and remarriage are also considerations for anyone trying to direct what happens to their assets, liabilities and the care of children and pets if something were to go wrong while on vacation or just on the way to work one day. An updated will and set of estate planning documents will give you and your family peace of mind, knowing if you can’t be there to make your own decisions, the decisions made will still be yours.
There are a few standard will and estate planning documents every Texas adult and parent should keep.
Texas Last Will and Testament. A properly written and signed will, prepared within the requirements of Texas law, allows you to make choices for the distribution of your property, who will have the task of doing that distribution, and of course, who you appoint to care for children or pets after you pass. In the event you die in Texas without a valid will, the state laws[i] will be applied and your estate assets will be divided to your living immediate family members. Blended families pay particular attention to wills because parents might want their blood children to take under a will before the family members of later married individuals.
Texas Durable Power of Attorney. In the event you are on that vacation overseas and decide to stay longer, or if you are in a medically induced coma after being involved in a car wreck on your way to work one day, a durable power of attorney document will allow your business and affairs to keep moving, even if you cannot. You can appoint a family member or friend to sign your checks, manage your assets and business affairs in your temporary absence. A properly drafted durable power of attorney can address with specificity exactly how want decisions and transactions are made if you cannot be there to make them in person.
Texas Healthcare Power of Attorney. Some of the biggest decisions that we can make concern the manner and delivery of healthcare services. As we age, mental health questions also arise. In the instance we lose our capacity to make sound decisions in the present, an appointed family member or friend with power of attorney over your healthcare might make decisions that save your life or carry out your wishes. Power of attorney for healthcare is also important to children and a power of attorney for a child can also be prepared so there is no question as to what happens if an emergency happens when one or both parents is unavailable.
In addition to wills and power of attorney documents, HIPAA authorization documents and physician directive documents, when properly prepared, can help you avoid unnecessary hold ups and policy barriers and restrictions when healthcare events occur out of the ordinary course of daily life.
The Barrows Firm attorneys frequently answer questions about wills and other estate planning documents, not only when people are going on a big vacation, but when they periodically update financial and business affairs, or simply when there is a change in the law or the tax code and they want an attorney to advise them whether they should take action.
The Barrows Firm in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, represents families with legal issues in the area of divorce and family law, as well as juvenile, criminal, probate law and estate planning. You may make an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Worth or Trophy Club office by contacting The Barrows Firm through the website. The Barrows Firm is also active on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.