Category: Living Trust

Houston Will Lawyers: Estate Planning Documents Everyone Needs Now

We have all heard stories of families that found themselves in a tailspin because a loved one passed away or became incapacitated without a proper estate plan. No matter what your age, you could really leave your family with a mess to clean up during an already very emotional time if you get sick or die without the right legal documents in place. It is important to help make things as easy as possible for the people you love by having your affairs in order. Here are five documents to consider creating right away.

  1. Last Will and Testament and/or Living Trust

A will is a document used to leave instructions about what should happen to your property after you die. In addition, you can use a will to name guardians for your minor children and even your pets. Depending on your situation, a Living Trust may add another layer of protection and control to your planning while allowing your family to avoid the potential costly (and slow!) probate process after you die. Your loved ones will be relieved to know that your final affairs will be administered smoothly using these documents and that they are properly carrying out your wishes.

  1. Durable power of attorney

A power of attorney allows you to choose someone to act on your behalf financially and legally in case you cannot make decisions. If you do not designate someone, your loved one’s hands could be tied if you are incapacitated. Many people put off creating a durable power of attorney because they think they are relinquishing control. This is not necessarily the case, as you can create a power of attorney that only takes effect if and when you are incapacitated if this is an issue for you.

  1. A medical power of attorney or living will

This document is different from the power of attorney described above. The medical power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate to medical professionals. A living will also allows you to explain in advance what type of care you do or do not want in all types of medical situations.

  1. List of important documents

Make a list directing your family on how to find all of your financial and legal documents. The list should include life insurance policies, annuities, pension or retirement accounts, bank accounts, divorce records, birth/adoption certificates, real estate deeds, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. If possible, include a list of bills and accounts so that someone can settle and close them.

If you do not have these documents in place, call our Houston Will and Trust Lawyers today to find out how easy and quick the process can be. Not only will your family benefit from your thoughtfulness, but you will be able to make your own decisions instead of leaving them to the courts. Schedule a consultation by simply calling 281-218-0880.

Come On, Do I Really Need a Will?

The answer to that question has always been an unequivocal “yes”—especially when there’s a spouse, children or stepchildren. However, there are some financial advisers that now say many Americans might not need a will. Forbes’ article, “Do You Really Need A Will?” says that a simpler life may mean you will need a less complex estate plan. However, few people’s lives are that simple. 10-19-2016

If you have minor children, you need a will to designate guardians for them. Also, a will or a trust will let you name someone to watch over assets for a disabled or elderly family member or a relative who may not be good with handling money.

Whether you have prized possessions or you want to bequeath some of your estate to the local animal rescue, a will is essential.

The state in which you live can make a big difference. In community property states, your surviving spouse will only inherit all your community property if all your children are also the children of that spouse. Otherwise, your one-half interest in your community estate will pass to your children. If there is any kind of animosity or resentment, they could make your spouse sell the house and send him or her packing because the kids own half the house.

Without a will, a pet can wind up in a shelter after you die if no one takes responsibility for it. A will can name a responsible person and make for a smoother transition for the animal.

A will can also help elderly parents avoid losing government benefits if you predecease them. If they are beneficiaries of your life insurance policy, a large payout may halt their government benefits unless you write a specific provision in your will.

Reference: Forbes (August 31, 2016) “Do You Really Need A Will?”

Don’t Be Shy: Talk to Parents About the Future

The challenge of helping aging parents is a most common issue. For example, a man’s father, who recently was diagnosed with dementia, couldn’t remember where his money or financial records were kept. That makes for a gut-wrenching situation, trying to locate important documents while caring for an ailing father.

Have that tough conversation now and concentrate on the top areas of your parents’ well-being. It will help alleviate the administrative and emotional burden of caring for them. Parents should to be reassured that you’re not trying to take control of their lives or take advantage of them. Begin the conversation early—that’s best for the long-term interests of the whole family. 9-29-2016

With that in mind, NASDAQ’s article, “Long-Term Care and Wealth Planning for Aging Parents,” points out some of the most important financial issues, decisions and plans to discuss with your parents:

  1. Consider a living trust. In addition to a will, your family may also benefit from creating a living trust to designate which beneficiaries will inherit the assets. The difference between a trust and a will is that assets included in a properly-executed living trust will not be part of the probate process. A living trust may be a bit more expensive to create than a will, but it will let your parents do wise tax and estate planning to protect their wealth. This definitely requires the expertise of an experienced estate planning attorney.
  2. Plan for possible long-term care. It’s not too early to start planning for long-term care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that there’s about a 70% chance that a 65-year-old will need some type of long-term care at some point. In fact, some will require long-term care for more than five years.
  3. Consider housing options. It’s critical to discuss housing options with your parents and what they would want to do in the event they can no longer live without aid in their own home.
  4. Figure out transportation needs. If your parents are having trouble with remembering things, they may no longer be able to drive safely. What’s the plan for when they can no longer drive themselves?
  5. Talk to your parents. Research shows that many adult children and their parents frequently are not on the same page with money issues. Some folks have difficulty talking about who’ll make financial decisions on behalf of parents if they no longer have the ability to handle their money safely, and others disagree on what role children should play in the care of their parents.

Despite being somewhat uncomfortable, a conversation with your parents about their health and wealth as they age is very important. You can show your parents that you have their best interests at heart and can avoid some future conflict and challenges.

Reference: NASDAQ (August 10, 2016) “Long-Term Care and Wealth Planning for Aging Parents”