Most people do not want to think about their ultimate demise, but even young adults are smart to do some estate planning. At Harris Cook, LLP, we know that getting your affairs in order means different things at different points during your lifetime and as your estate grows or diminishes along the way. Our Family Law and Estate Planning attorneys have helped hundreds of Texans plan ahead to be prepared for any unforeseen event that might affect their family and their assets and property.
Get Organized and Prepared
There are several documents you should have drawn up to your specifications, even when you are a young adult. These include one or more of the following: Will, Living Trust, Power of Attorney, Medical Directive. Your attorney can best advise you about which documents you need to properly get your affairs in order.
Do You Need a Will or a Trust?
When you have a Will, you designate recipients and dictate how you want items distributed to them after your death. A Will can be simple, which is all most younger adults need to have. Once you begin to grow a family, with a spouse and perhaps minor children, your Will can still address most issues. However, a Living Trust is another option you should consider, especially if you have a blended family. With a Living Trust, you can address problems that might occur during your lifetime, as well as distribution of Trust assets after your death that protects the rights of your spouse and children. For example, if you have a serious illness that causes incapacity or incompetence, your Living Trust can provide for your care and management of your assets without the necessity and expense of a formal guardianship.
A Will only becomes active upon your death, when admitted to Probate. When you create a Trust, you may avoid or minimize Probate Court involvement. You can make yourself the initial Trustee, and appoint someone else to manage your affairs when you are unable to do so. Upon your death, the person you designate to handle your affairs will begin to make distributions and care for your estate holdings according to your specified wishes.
Other Important Documents
A Medical Directive and/or Power of Attorney are used when you are determined to be incapable of handling your own affairs. The Medical Directive describes how you want your medical care managed, whether or not you want life-prolonging procedures, and more. The Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a specific person you trust to take over your financial responsibilities, pay bills, deal with other organizations like banks, medical facilities, etc. Both of these can be easily changed during your lifetime. It is imperative that the person(s) designated in these documents be someone that you can trust with the responsibility.
Goals for Getting Affairs in Order
- Keep copies of your legal documents and other important papers in one place. These documents include items like birth, death and marriage certificates, social security information, employment and military records, and other papers recommended by your attorney.
- Tell your Executor and/or Trustee where you store your important information; give these people copies or directions they will need.
- Provide advance consent forms with your doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc., to talk with your representative. This will avoid delay at crucial times.
- Make records of your income, debts, liabilities, income and retirement information, locations of property titles, insurance information, creditors and other financial information. Make sure your Executor and/or Trustee know how to access this information if needed.
Now is the perfect time to begin getting your affairs in order. Contact Harris Cook, LLP, law offices in Arlington, TX, Mansfield or Flower Mound for legal advice. Call us now, at (817) 275-8765.