The Livens Law Firm

In estate planning, legal directives execute the maker's wishes

Because an estate plan in Texas and elsewhere consists of a variety of “legal instruments” that must pass muster under state law, it’s best to give up any thoughts of doing them yourself. Consider working with professionals to get your estate planning done as a classic ‘team effort’ geared toward accuracy and legal compliance. It’s true that estate planning also seeks to maximize the value of the estate’s assets, and to minimize tax drains, and these efforts are included in the process.

The power of attorney is usually an indispensable tool in the arsenal of estate planning documents. This is a document in which a person, the principal, confers a certain authority in a second person, an agent, for the agent to sign the principal’s name and to do basic acts of business and conduct affairs on behalf of the principal. The power of attorney can authorize a wide range of actions, and it should be drawn up to carefully designate which powers are being conferred.

The power of attorney is invaluable if and when the maker becomes incapacitated or incompetent to act for herself or himself. Other documents needed are health care directives and living wills. The living will gives medical providers the necessary instructions on whether to attach or disconnect life-extension machines where there is, for example, clinical brain death. Health care directives give authority to another to take medical actions on the patient’s behalf, and to communicate with the patient’s doctors where the patient is unable to do so.

In Texas and everywhere else, most people have a will. This sets the basic instructions for distributing the assets remaining in the person’s estate after death. It’s a great tool for having one’s wishes precisely followed after death. The will can contain testamentary trust provisions delineating a trustee to take care of a minor’s assets and to distribute them in periodic installments at different age levels. Estate planning entails the benefit of allowing the maker to designate his or her own representatives to administer the assets as the maker wishes.

Source: myrtlebeachonline.com, "Real Life | The documents you need to know about for feel-good estate planning", Gary Newman, July 12, 2014

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