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tarrant-county-estate-planning-lawyer.jpgA family may need to address multiple issues related to the needs of a person as they get older. Seniors can sometimes struggle to handle concerns related to their health, their finances, and their day-to-day needs. In these situations, other family members will often be able to step in, offer assistance, or even provide a home and round-the-clock care to address medical and personal concerns. When doing so, a person may be unsure about the best steps to take to ensure that they will have the right to make decisions on behalf of their loved one. By consulting with an attorney who can provide guidance in matters related to estate planning and elder law, a family can determine whether establishing guardianship may be the right choice in their situation.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Guardianship

Texas law allows a person to be named as someone’s legal guardian, which will give them the right to make certain decisions, as well as the responsibility to act in the best interests of the ward and provide for their ongoing needs. To establish guardianship, a person will need to file a petition in court, and their request will typically only be granted if there is evidence that the proposed ward is incapacitated, meaning that they are unable to fully provide for their own personal, medical, or financial needs. An examination by a doctor may be required to determine the person’s mental state and physical abilities, and a court hearing will be held where a judge will decide whether guardianship is necessary.

There are two types of guardianship that may be established. A guardian of the person will have physical possession of the ward, and they will be responsible for providing care, supervision, and protection, making decisions about the ward’s medical care and treatment, and addressing other personal needs. A guardian of the estate will be able to manage a ward’s property and finances, including collecting income or benefits, paying expenses, and addressing legal issues that may affect the ward.

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fort-worth-business-dispute-lawyer.jpgWhile business contracts can be crucial for protecting the interests of a company and other parties, there are a variety of situations where business owners may need to determine how to address a breach of contract. For example, a service provider may not have fully provided the services described in a contract within the correct time frame, or a former employee may have violated the terms of a non-compete agreement. In these cases, a business may seek to enforce the terms of a contract or pursue compensation for financial losses that occurred because of a breach of contract. While these issues may be addressed through litigation in court, the parties involved may benefit by using other methods to negotiate a settlement. Mediation can be a beneficial way of resolving contract disputes, and it will often allow the parties to reach agreements and settle disputes much more quickly and efficiently.

Understanding the Mediation Process

In some cases, a contract may include terms stating that the parties will use mediation to address any disputes that may arise. In the absence of these terms, the parties may also agree to participate in mediation and attempt to negotiate a workable settlement before proceeding to litigation. By using mediation, the parties can approach their issues amicably, and they can agree to cooperate to find solutions that will protect the interests of both parties and allow them to maintain ongoing relationships.

During the mediation process, a neutral mediator will serve as an intermediary between the parties and an advisor during discussions. The mediator will not have any decision-making authority; instead, the parties will need to reach agreements on how their disputes should be resolved. By facilitating discussions, offering suggestions, and working to defuse conflict, the mediator can help the parties find mutually beneficial solutions. The parties will need to be in full agreement on all decisions that are made.

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fort-worth-revocable-living-trust.jpgDuring the estate planning process, a person or family may use multiple tools to determine how different types of assets will be handled both during a person’s life and after their death. Trusts are some of the most powerful and flexible tools that are available, and they can be used to preserve and protect assets and ensure that they are used correctly to provide for the needs of a person and their loved ones. Revocable living trusts are some of the most commonly-used types of trusts, and they can provide a family with multiple benefits.

Advantages of Revocable Living Trusts

When a person creates a trust, they will transfer certain assets to the trust and provide instructions for how these assets should be distributed to different beneficiaries. The trust itself will own the assets, and this can provide some protection, since the assets will no longer be part of the person’s estate. A trust involves three parties: the person who created the trust (known as the grantor or settlor), the person who will manage the assets in the trust (known as the trustee), and one or more beneficiaries who will receive distributions of assets in the trust.

With a revocable living trust, the grantor will often serve as the trustee, and in addition to naming family members or other people as beneficiaries, they may also be a beneficiary, which will allow them to use the trust’s assets throughout the rest of their life. A successor trustee will be named who will take over management of the trust after the grantor dies or becomes incapacitated. Because the trust is revocable, the grantor may change its terms at any time. 

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shutterstock_97178681.jpgDuring the estate planning process, you will make a variety of decisions about how matters will be handled after your death. In addition to addressing ownership of your property or other related issues, it is also important to consider how you will be able to meet your needs throughout the rest of your life. Along with decisions related to your finances, you will also want to make sure your medical and personal care will be provided for. It can be especially important to address situations where you may become terminally ill, and if you cannot make your wishes known, you will want to ensure that you receive the proper care and end-of-life medical treatment. You can address these situations by creating a living will, which is one of the most important ancillary documents that may be included in your estate plan.

Requirements for Living Wills in Texas

A living will covers situations where you will be unable to make decisions about your medical care because of an illness or injury. The Texas Health and Safety Code details a standard form that may be used for a “Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates,” although you may also create a document that is customized to your unique needs. Your living will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses before it will become valid, and its terms will only go into effect if you become incapacitated in the future and cannot make your wishes known.

A living will may address:

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If you live in Texas and you are creating an estate plan, you should also give some thought to your digital assets. You do not need to own cryptocurrency or a valuable domain in order to have digital assets that need to be addressed. Your digital life includes your social media accounts, your digital photos, and your emails as well as any online accounts and other things you own that are digitized. You may also have hybrid assets, such as an account with a brick-and-mortar bank that you can access online.

What to do

The first step should be making a list of all your assets along with any important information about them, such as passwords and account numbers. As is the case with any other type of property, you then need to decide which of your beneficiaries will get your digital assets. Like most other states, Texas has a version of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which allows the people you designate to access your accounts.

Who has power

It is always best to err on the side of being explicit about your intentions and wishes in your estate planning documents, and you should do this with your digital assets as well. For example, you will need to use your will or other documents to give someone permission to access your email, social media and any text messages. Your executor has the power to manage some digital assets, such as virtual currency, but if you would prefer that a spouse or other family member does instead, you can also specify this in your estate plan.

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The First Step: Call Today
It is never too late to get help on your estate plan. To discuss your situation with a seasoned estate planning attorney, call our Fort Worth office at 817-349-7730. Or, reach out through our online contact form. We will respond as soon as possible.
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