Most people in Texas are aware of the importance of creating a plan for the future. Many people have the misconception that estate planning is only for the time following their death and will determine how their assets will be distributed. However, a comprehensive estate plan also focuses on a time when someone is unable to make financial and medical decisions on their own due to an illness or injury.
For example, an older woman in another state reportedly had a stroke while exercising. While her son had created bank accounts for the woman after her husband died, he and his siblings discovered that because no other names were added to the account and no powers of attorney created, her children did not have access to her health care directives or her bank accounts. While the woman recovered, the situation created turmoil that may cause lasting damage to the family relationships.
There are options that can help prevent this turmoil; however, some reports indicate that fewer than 20% of people over the age of 55 have created the documents that can help, such as powers of attorney and health care directives. However, taking these steps when a person is still healthy and able to make decisions has several important implications. In addition to ensuring that the person’s wishes are known should they become unable to make decisions on their own, it prevents the need of going to court in a time that is already filled with stress.
The unexpected illness or injury of a family member is an inherently difficult situation for family members. While these burdens cannot be completely eliminated, the creation of certain documents can ensure that family members do not experience even more stress. An experienced estate planning attorney can help those in Texas ensure that there is someone who can make decisions for them should they become incapacitated.