Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Will?
Why should I hire a lawyer and not use DIY tools such as LegalZoom or Quicken WillMaker?
What basic Estate Planning documents do I need?
Last Will and Testament: A legal document that provides instructions for how to distribute assets after death. A will may also (1) state the guardian for minor children and/or (2) appoint an executor to administer the estate in accordance with the Testator’s wishes.
Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document that allows you to appoint a family member or trusted friend to serve as an agent for you to manage your finances and legal affairs if you are no longer able to manage them yourself. This document is necessary in the event you become either temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney: A legal document that allows you to appoint a family member or friend to make medical decisions for you in the event you become unconscious or mentally incapable of making those decisions on your own.
HIPAA Authorization: HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress in 1996. HIPAA lays out rules and places limits on persons who are able to review your medical records or receive your health information. Doctors and medical staff who violate HIPAA regulations are subject to civil money penalties or imprisonment in extreme cases. Having a HIPAA Authorization in place allows you to name a family member or friend to have access to your medical information so that your health care provider or insurance company may share medical information with persons named on the authorization.
Medical Directive: A legal document, also known as the living will, that directs physicians to administer, withhold, or withdraw life-sustaining treatments in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition.
Declaration of Guardianship: A legal document that appoints a family member or trusted friend to care for you in the event you are unable to care for yourself. Without this document in place, should you become incapacitated, the Court will order a guardianship for you. However, a Court-ordered guardianship is both time-consuming and costly.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process in which a decedent’s will is proved to be valid or invalid by the court. The process involves the appointment of an executor (in the case of a will) or an administrator (no valid will) of the decedent’s estate. Simply explained, the executor or administrator, once appointed, is charged with paying the decedent’s liabilities and distributing the decedent’s assets. In the case of a will, the distribution will occur according to the decedent’s instructions. Without a will, the distribution will occur according to the formula set forth under Texas Law. See the Texas Intestacy Chart.
May I name an Executor who does not live in Texas? May I name a Guardian who lives outside of Texas?
Will my Life Insurance be considered as part of my Will?
My sister is really great with my children, but not great with money. May I name someone else to manage my estate and name my sister as my children’s Guardian?
If I have a Revocable Trust, do I also need a Will?
What is a Special Power of Appointment?
How would I plan my burial or cremation?
How can I see Medical Information for my child?
Book a Consult
The fastest way to determine a path forward in your estate planning is to schedule an appointment for a consult with StoneMyers Law. We'll take the time to listen to your desires to leave a legacy for your family and come up with the right plan to make that happen!
There are many moving parts with Estate Planning, and our team will help you confidently navigate the process. We will expertly guide you through the process and show you every rock in the river along the way.
Probate of Estates
Probate is the legal process of distributing the assets and estate of a deceased person. This includes resolving all probate property issues like taxes, insurance, title, and paying creditors for any outstanding money owed by the deceased.
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