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Estate Planning Basics

Why do I need estate planning?

Estate planning is not only for rich people – everyone has an estate, no matter how much money they have. Likewise, estate planning is not just for retired or older people, because unfortunately bad things can happen to us at any time during our lives. And although estate planning definitely helps protect your loved ones when you Texas estate planning for Hispanic familydie, proper estate planning also greatly helps you and your loved ones if you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated before you die.

Basically, if you do not have the proper legal documents in place for when you die or if you become incapacitated, then the state has strict laws that determine how your affairs must be handled. Oftentimes things end up getting administered very differently than how you would have wanted them too. Likewise, these legally mandated actions by the state often end up causing your loved ones tremendous emotional stress and anguish, and these actions usually waste precious financial resources that could have been much better used by the people you care about the most.

What estate planning documents do I need?

There are five basic estate planning documents that every adult in Texas should have. This is because proper estate planning covers not only what should happen to your estate when you die, but also what happens to you and your estate if you become disabled or incapacitated before you die. Having a will is certainly important, but it is not the only document that you should have in place in order to make sure your affairs are handled as you would want them to be during difficult times.

  1. Will – A will is a legal document that explains who will inherit your property when you die. It likewise can appoint a guardian for any minor children you may have. It also can give instructions to the court system that will save your loved ones precious time and money when they may need it the most.  See the Wills page for more details.
  2. Power of Attorney – A power of attorney allows someone you trust to make financial decisions for you when you are not able to do so yourself. See the Power of Attorney page for more details.
  3. Medical Power of Attorney – A medical power of attorney authorizes someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you were to ever become ill and unable to communicate with your doctor. See the Medical Power of Attorney page for more details.
  4. Living Will – A living will instructs your doctor as to whether or not you would want to receive life-sustaining treatments if you were to become extremely ill and unable to communicate. See the Living Wills page for more details.
  5. HIPAA Authorization – A HIPAA Authorization allows doctors’ offices and insurance companies to share your personal health care information with someone you trust, including family members. See the HIPAA Authorization page for more details.

What is considered part of my estate?

Per the IRS, your estate consists of the fair market value of everything you own at the time of your death minus your debts. These items include such things as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, life insurance policies, business interests and personal property like cars, jewelry, coin collections and artwork.

Do I have to worry about an estate tax?

The US Congress passed legislation on January 1, 2013 allowing every person the ability to leave or give away up to $5.25  million without owing any estate tax. This exemption amount is set to be indexed to inflation each year in the future. Because of this estate tax exclusion, only a fraction of the top 1% of the richest people in the country will pay an estate tax.

Does Texas have an inheritance tax?

No, the State of Texas does not have an inheritance tax.

Why should I use you for drafting my estate planning documents?

Please see my Home Page.

How do I work with you? How can your law firm create a will and other estate planning documents for me?

Please see How Do I Work With You?