Estate Planning FAQs

A will allows you to determine who will inherit your assets, when they will inherit them and provides for an orderly disposition of the assets after death.  Wills do not allow a decedent to avoid probate. Wills are especially important if you have minor children and would like to designate who will be the new guardian of the children upon your death.

Our comprehensive estate planning documents can include a living will (previously known as Directive to Physicians), statutory durable power of attorney, declaration of guardian, medical power of attorney, HIPPA disclosure, donor card, and burial statement.  

  • A living will allows you to make decisions in advance regarding types of medical life support measures you prefer to have in the event you cannot express your choices yourself.  
  • A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you know to make financial and/or health decisions for you in the event you are not able to.  The durable power of attorney is a very powerful document and our attorneys will guide you in making an informed decision on how best to use this document in your estate plan. 

A declaration of guardian allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity.  If you are incapacitated without these legal documents, then you and your family will be involved in a probate proceeding known as a guardianship and conservatorship. The court system and judge then determine who should make these decisions for you and those decisions are then supervised by the court.

The act of dying without a legal will. If you die without a will, the state where you reside determines who will inherit your assets and when they will inherit them.  More than 55% of Americans currently do not have a will.

Beneficiary designations are designations that you make on accounts (such as life insurance death benefits, bank accounts, IRAs) regarding who you would like to inherit those assets or accounts at your death.  You may be able to avoid probate on the transfer of these assets at your death depending on the designations made.

A revocable living trust is a more complex estate planning tool which allows you to transfer your assets to your trust during your lifetime.  You as trustee then retain use of the assets during your lifetime as beneficiary and upon your death the assets are distributed according to your wishes.  With proper planning, trusts can be an effective tool to alleviate estate taxes and avoid probate.

Everyone who owns assets such as a house, land, financial assets, etc. and wants to avoid having the courts involved in their estate should consider a revocable living trust.  The trust will allow you to consolidate all of your assets under a single plan.  Additionally, anyone who owns real estate outside of Texas should consider having a revocable trust to avoid having to probate their estate in another state or jurisdiction.  This process is called an ancillary probate.  It can be an expensive and time consuming process, which would require additional legal representation in that state or jurisdiction.