Estate Planning Attorney in Plano, TX
Estate Planning Attorney John F. Williams, Jr. Offers Estate Planning Solutions That Protect the Family
As an Estate Planning Attorney Ive worked with many families that are confused about how best to protect themselves and their children in the event of an untimely death or unexpected disability. They are not sure whether to establish a Will, a Living Trust, or both.
At the initial consultation I focus on trying to simplify the Estate Planning process and explain to them that the major issues they must address are as follows:
- What do they want to happen to the estate if one spouse predeceases the other?
- Who will manage the estate if the surviving spouse is unable?
- Who will make health care decisions for the surviving spouse when they become unable to make their own decisions?
- When the last spouse passes, what will become of the estate?
Estate Divided or Whole
When the first spouse deceases a majority of estate plans allow the surviving spouse to continue to use the entire estate as they see fit, as spelled out in the Will or Living Trust. This means the estate remains intact and is whole for the surviving spouse to do with as they desire. There are circumstances where this is not always the case. I have a lot of second marriages in which each spouse is keeping certain assets separate to pass only to their children or other family members upon their death. The Living Trust works well for this type of planning and provides for all beneficiaries.
When the first spouse passes, its mostly assumed that the surviving spouse will continue to manage the estate without any interruption. This is true most of the time, but if the surviving spouse is mentally or physically incapable of doing so then I want to make sure the family has appointed a power of attorney. The power of attorney handles the affairs regardless of whether there is a Living Trust or a Will in place. This document grants certain powers to the person named in order to make financial decisions on behalf of the disabled spouse. If there is a Living Trust in place, they are also known as the successor trustee and will manage the assets based upon the terms of the trust.
Health Care Decisions
Appointing someone to make health care decisions cannot be taken lightly. The person named is responsible to act for you, ensuring that your health care wishes are carried out. There are three primary documents every person should have: Power of Attorney for Health Care, an Advanced Directive and a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) release. These documents ensure what your healthcare plans when you can no longer speak your wishes.
Distribution of Estate
When all is said and done, the estate must be distributed. Whether through a Will or a Living Trust, your wishes need to be carried out and the remaing assets be passed to those named beneficiaries of your estate. If youve spent a lifetime accumulating assets, you want to make sure they go to those you care about. Proper estate planning ensures that this will happen.
For all your questions regarding Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, or Powers of Attorney, please contact the Law Offices of John F. Williams, Jr. today. I look forward to serving your needs and providing a free initial consultation.