Your estate plan is written legal instructions for what happens when you can no longer take care of yourself or manage your assets. Estate planning is about taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Estate plans are very customizable, depending on your assets and wishes. An estate planning lawyer can work with you or your loved one to ensure your assets are secure and your instructions are fulfilled after you pass.
What Documents Are Part of an Estate Plan?
Each estate plan is unique and requires its own set of documents depending on your wishes and what you want to protect and pass to your loved ones after death. Some essential legal documents commonly used in a Texas or California estate plan are a will, revocable living trust, powers of attorney, living will, and an advance health care directive.
Understanding Last Wills and Testaments
A last will and testament addresses your intentions after you pass away. This legal document names an executor of your estate, who will manage your estate, pay debts, and distribute your property as directed. The distribution of assets is addressed in the last will and testament. A last will and testament requires probate court to implement. must go through probate court.
The benefit of a revocable living trust is that it does not require probate, unlike a last will and testament. Property is still distributed at death, but it is done without the need for a court proceeding. With a revocable living trust, your property will be transferred into the trust during your lifetime, and the trust will then own the property, which your beneficiaries will receive after your death.
Understanding Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney are critical parts of an estate plan. The two legal documents name an individual, or individuals, who will act as your agent to make health care decisions and financial decisions on your behalf. An agent under a financial power of attorney makes decisions related to financial matters, while an agent under a health care power of attorney makes health care decisions on your behalf.
Understanding Living Wills
A living will declares your wishes for end-of-life care. This document can include what medical treatments you want or don’t want if you are incapacitated. A living will takes the stress of making those difficult decisions off family members and helps keep peace in your family during emotional and challenging times.
Understanding Advance Health Care Directives
Like a living will, a health care directive is a document that addresses your wishes for your health care needs. This legal document allows you to name a person as an agent to make decisions if you are incapacitated as well as communicate other desires regarding your health care.
The Importance of Estate Planning for Estate Tax Protection
It is essential to create a tax and estate plan together, as they heavily influence each other. If you have a separate tax advisor, they need to coordinate with your estate planning attorney to create a seamless strategy and avoid duplication of work.
Our Estate Planning Process for Texas and California Families
- Estate Planning Questionnaire. Bromlow Law, PLLC offers an initial consultation upon completing our asset inventory questionnaire.
- Love & Legacy Consultation. This is our initial meeting with you. Our goal is to spend 2 hours understanding you and your planning priorities. We also will describe our process in detail and answer any questions.
- Virtual Document Review. This virtual meeting allows ample time for us to review the documents with you, ensure we reflect your wishes, and answer any questions you may have without the added pressure of signing immediately.
- In-person Signing. With the substantive review behind us, the in-person signing meeting becomes a less exhausting process of finalizing your estate plan with your signatures.
- Family Meeting to Review Plan. Your family should know about your estate plan and future goals. This family meeting is an opportunity for everyone to understand their roles within your estate plan and fully understand your goals and final wishes.
- Legacy Interview. This interview is an opportunity for formalizing your family values, life stories or advice to your loved one in a video format.
- Children between 18-25. If you are in the planning process with Bromlow Law, PLLC and have children between 18-25, we offer complimentary statutory health care power of attorney and statutory financial power of attorney for your children between the ages of 18-25.
- Coordinating your Assets. Your Estate Plan does not work unless your assets are coordinated with it. Whether you take care of this vital step yourself or have us do it, Bromlow Law, PLLC helps you understand the benefits of asset coordination and provides you with proper guidance.
The Value of Working with an Expert Estate Planning Attorney
Bromlow Law, PLLC is here to help you and your family understand legal strategies to preserve your legacy. Our family-centric approach can give your family peace of mind that your legacy is protected, and legal conflict is avoided.
Laura L. Bromlow is an attorney licensed in Texas and California and is a Certified Elder Law Attorney through the National Elder Law Foundation. She can help you and your loved one understand estate planning, elder law, asset protection planning, guardianship, special needs planning, probate, and trust and estate administration. Laura and her team invite you to contact them to learn how they can help you safeguard your future.