Wills and Estate Planning El Paso TX
Complete estate planning for an individual includes:
- Last Will and Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Directive to Physicians
- HIPPA Authorization
Though not all are required, these five forms enable us to effectively represent your interest in life and death. Some individuals may wish to explore establishing a trust as part of their estate process. Because the State of Texas mirrors United States federal inheritance tax law we only recommend establishing a trust if your estate exceeds 10 million dollars or if you have more specific goals for your wealth after you pass.
Call 915-201-2633 to make an appointment. We can give you an expected cost over the phone.
Last Will and Testament
The Last Will and Testament, commonly called the will, is the cornerstone of the estate planning process. It’s the legal document where the Testator (who the Will is for) designates the Beneficiary (who their property goes to when they pass) and the Executor (who is in charge of making it happen).
A Beneficiary can be almost anyone, such as a family member, a friend, or a charitable organization. An Executor can be any individual. Although it is commonly a family member, it does not have to be.
Your will can also establish a trust to take care of young children or disabled persons. Importantly, a will has no power or effect until a person passes. It can be changed or updated as long as the Testator has capacity.
Generally, to be a valid will in the State of Texas:
- The Testator must legally be able to create a will, over 18, and have the capacity to do so, being of sound mind.
- The will must be signed by the Testator and by two witnesses.
Here at Winton Law, our mission is to understand your wishes in order to effectively draft your will. Once you’ve decided who to appoint as your Beneficiaries and your Executor, a will can generally be drafted in a few hours and signed that day.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to make financial decisions for you—usually a family member or a trusted friend—if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. It is estate planning’s most powerful and useful document while you are living, but it automatically terminates upon passing.
For example, one client experienced a stroke, leaving him unable to move, communicate, or sign his name. His spouse wanted to sell their home in order to move into a one-story home where she could better care for him. But he never granted his spouse Durable Power of Attorney. This meant the spouse did not have authority to sell his part of the home. The title company would not allow her to sell their home without his participation.
Most people don’t realize that even in marriage, spouses are not automatically legal guardians of each other. Without Durable Power of Attorney, the spouse had to spend thousands of dollars, over months of paperwork and negotiations, to have a court grant her guardianship over her own husband in order to sell the house. This all could have been avoided with an inexpensive Durable Power of Attorney.
Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions if you’re unconscious or become mentally incapacitated.
Accidents can happen at any time, potentially leaving you being unable to make urgent medical decisions for yourself. A Medical Power of Attorney will allow you to choose who can make those decisions for you, while you still can.
Directive to Physicians
A Directive to Physicians, also called a Living Will, is a document that instructs your doctor not to use artificial methods to keep you alive. This is a highly personal and sensitive decision, and it’s critical to put this in writing to ensure your wishes are followed.
A Directive to Physicians can also specify how a doctor should proceed if you are dying of a terminal illness. For example, if you suffer a stroke your Directive to Physicians can specify if you do not wished to be saved from the stroke.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law that sets rules on who can and cannot have access to your medical records. The HIPPA Authorization form allows you to designate a person who can access your medical records. This is useful if you become incapacitated and medical records need to be collected and transferred from one doctor to another.
Guardianship of Minors
For many, a Guardianship Designation of Minors is also an important document to include in your estate planning package. This document allows an individual to tell the court who they wish to be guardian of their minor children. This is a request and is not binding on the court, but the court will give substantial deference to the parents of the minor and only in extreme situations where the designated guardian is unqualified will the court appoint someone else.
Winton Law El Paso PC is ready to handle all of your estate planning needs and answer all your questions.
Call 915-201-2633 to make an appointment. We will take care of your Estate Planning needs.