Do I need an Estate Plan?

J. Thomas
December 18, 2008 — 1,369 views  
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Generally a person's estate consists of all of the property that they own, including but not limited to vehicles, boats, stocks, and personal property. The idea of estate planning for many people is difficult to deal with, because it brings with it some very unpleasant thoughts. However, it is also a good way to ensure that your property is distributed in the manner consistent with your wishes and that the people you care about are provided for in the event of your death.

Will

A will in general is a document that appoints an executor (someone to carry out your wishes) and to direct the distribution your property. The will can also be used to appoint guardians for minor children in the event of your death. A will can also be a "pour over" into a trust. This means that on your death your property is transferred into a trust for the designated beneficiaries.

Statutory Durable Power of Attorney

The second document of any good estate plan is the statutory durable power of attorney. This power of attorney designates a person to handle your financial affairs in the event that you become unable to. There are two ways that this power of attorney can be made. The first is a springing power of attorney, which means that the power of attorney becomes effective upon your disability. The power of attorney can also be made effective immediately.

Medical Power of Attorney

The medical power of attorney is a document that designates an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to. This document is sometimes confused with a living will but it does not have the same function.

Living Will

The living will informs doctors and hospital of your wishes with regard to the use of life support. This document is typically used in the event that the person's condition is found to be terminal and irreversible. Generally there are two options, you may elect to have life support continued or discontinued.

If you are in the Houston area and think that you need an estate plan, please visit this website: http://www.albertleegiddens.com

About the Author

I have been in the legal industry for many years and I have seen many people come into our office in horrible situations because their loved one did not make an estate plan. I am trying to use my legal education to help other understand the importance of estate planning.

J. Thomas