Important Estate Planning Tools
If you're considering drawing up an estate plan, there are several tools and documents to consider. Depending on your unique situation, here are some of the estate planning elements you may consider:
A will is a legal document that contains specific instructions regarding how your assets and property should be disposed of or transferred to inheritors upon your death. You are allowed to name a guardian in your will to protect, manage, and care for the affairs and interests of your minor children and any asset left behind for them.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship that exists when a person (guarantor or trustor) appoints a third-party (trustee) to manage their final affairs and help transfer assets to beneficiaries and heirs upon their death. A trust may include all the estate's assets, such as real estate property, investments, savings, bank accounts, and business interests. Upon your death or after sudden incapacitation, the appointed trustee steps in and administers your estate in accordance with the provisions of the trust document.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney gives an individual of your choice the power and duty to act on your behalf for legal and financial matters when you are incapable. The person may be your friend, attorney, advisor, or a trusted family member.
Guardianship Affidavit /Guardian of Estate (Conservatorship) for Minors
Parents should think carefully before leaving their minor children as beneficiaries of their estate or life insurance policies. It is essential to also determine who will be his or her guardian and the trustee or guardian of their inheritance until they reach adulthood.
Special Needs Planning
Special needs planning is a fiduciary relationship that allows a person to appoint a trusted person to handle and manage any asset, property, or funds intended for their minor child or an incapacitated adult who may not be able to otherwise manage such funds or assets themselves due to their condition.
Advance Healthcare Directive
An advance care directive is a legal document that provides specific instructions about a person's preferred medical care should they become unable to make such decisions by themselves, typically due to disability, sudden incapacitation, or terminal illness.
Personal Property Memorandum
The personal property memorandum is a document that allows a person to gift tangible personal property such as furniture, artwork, jewelry, and other items that may not be covered in their will.
Letter of Intent
However, not all wishes or instructions can be written in the Will. The letter of intent allows a person to inform their surviving family members about various things you hope they do after your demise. The letter of intent can contain instructions, financial information, requests, and other important confidential information that may not be included in your will or trust.
Additional Documents You Should Have
Some other documents to include in your estate plan include:
- Birth and adoption certificates
- Bank accounts
- Real estate deeds
- Bills and account information
- Life insurance policies
- Divorce records
- Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
- Pension or retirement account information
Work With an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Planning for the future or preparing for life's uncertainties can never happen too early. Should you become unable or unavailable to voice your opinion, your surviving family members can have peace of mind and benefit from knowing your true wishes. A knowledgeable Texas estate planning attorney can help protect your assets, interests, and help determine the right estate planning options that best fit your unique needs.
I have devoted my career to providing experienced legal services and comprehensive guidance to clients in a variety of different estate planning matters. As your attorney, I can help you understand your unique situation and explore your estate planning options. Using my extensive experience, I will determine the ideal estate plan that best suits your needs and help you make informed decisions. I will work diligently to address your needs and concerns and seek to provide answers to all the questions you may have.