Estate Planning


Last Will and Testament

Everyone should have one, whether you are single or married.  Most married couples have reciprocal Wills.  That is, they each have an identical Will that leaves everything to each other and then equally to their kids.  A Will must also name an executor, which is the person to probate the Will in court and make sure your wishes are carried out.  An alternate executor can also be named, just in case the first choice is not available.  If you have minor children, then you can also create a trust, where their inheritance can be held until they are at least 18.  You will also need to designate a trusted adult to act as a trustee.

Medical Power of Attorney

In Texas, the law states that, in the absence of a Medical Power of Attorney, the spouse is the one to make medical treatment decisions when the other spouse is incapacitated.  However, spouses may want to formally name each other anyway to prevent any confusion or potential problems with in-laws or other relatives.  Spouses can also name an alternate adult to make medical decisions in case both spouses become incapacitated at the same time.  Single adults should have this document as well so their physicians will know who has the authority to make medical decisions when they can no longer make their own decisions.

Durable Power of Attorney

This Power of Attorney (POA) allows another adult to conduct all non-medical business, such as handling accounts, transferring property, etc, that you would otherwise do for yourself.  This POA can be general and include conducting all business or the POA can allow just one specific transaction, such as handling the sale of a specific house.  You can name an alternate here just like with the Medical POA.  This POA can go into effect immediately or only upon disability.

Directive to Physician (Living Will)

This document expresses your wishes to your physician as to whether to continue life support in the event of permanent or terminal medical incapacity.  This is a special Medical Power of Attorney that allows you to make the end of life decision so that your surviving spouse, adult kids, or other relatives do not have to.