When you hear the term “estate planning,” you may assume it refers to having a will. A will is part of estate planning, but there are many other specific documents you need to consider when planning how your assets will be distributed after your death. At Springer & Lyle, our estate planning attorneys will help you decide which tools are best for you as an individual.
Documents to Consider
- Will. A will is essential to estate planning. It is a written document in which you articulate how you want your assets distributed; in other words, which heir gets which asset. If you do not have a will, Texas law will determine who gets what percentage of your assets. A will must pass through probate before the assets are distributed.
- Trusts. There are different types of trusts. With a trust, you can transfer your assets to the trust and continue to benefit from them during your lifetime. A trust is effective as soon as you sign the legal document. When you die, your assets then pass to whoever you have designated to inherit. Trusts are not subject to probate and are a way of transferring your assets to your heirs in ways that will avoid heavy taxation.
- Durable Power of Attorney. This document is almost essential. You use this to designate someone you trust to make financial decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself.
- Advance Directive. This document gives someone you trust the power to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them for yourself. You can be specific about end-of-life care. According to the Texas Advance Directives Act, you specifically direct your representative to see that your wishes are carried out including whether you want medical professionals to “administer, withhold, or withdraw life-sustaining treatment in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition.”
Other Estate Planning Tools
There are other estate planning tools that may fit your needs. Some things you may want to consider include:
- Setting up a way to be sure your special needs child is provided for even if the child is an adult.
- How your business will transfer upon your death.
- How to ensure long-term care will be available to you through Medicare or Medicaid without your family losing all your assets.
For assistance with all aspects of estate planning, contact one of our estate planning attorneys at Springer & Lyle. We help coordinate Texas law with federal law to be sure your assets will be transferred to your heirs according to your specific wishes.