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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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There are many things that you have to consider when estate planning. One of them is the fact that you can become incapacitated at any time, so you need to have a plan in place for who will make decisions on your behalf. This is where the power of attorney comes in. Read on to learn more about this important estate planning tool.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document in estate planning that allows you to appoint someone else to make decisions on your behalf. Power of attorney is often used for financial matters, medical decisions or both. It may be limited to specific tasks, such as making decisions about your health care or handling your finances.

What are the benefits of a power of attorney?

The agent you appoint will be able to manage your assets, pay bills and file taxes as necessary. It can also help reduce stress on family members who may not live nearby or who might get overwhelmed with other responsibilities at the time that you need them most.

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In Texas, probate is a necessary estate administration process that ensures that estate plans get executed properly. Sometimes, it is necessary when somebody dies with assets and there are issues or doubts surrounding the executor, the will or the estate itself. If you’ve been asking yourself certain questions about probate, keep reading.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process of estate administration that occurs when there are disputes among heirs or creditors regarding the estate, its executor and the distribution process. The purpose of the probate process is to check the validity of a will and to ensure that estate plans are properly executed by the right person.

How does probate work?

The executor of an estate files all required documents with the local courthouse for review by the estate judge. If approved, an estate inventory is then created and creditors get notified. All assets of the estate are then identified along with any debts before the heirs or beneficiaries receive anything. The estate is then divided among the heirs in accordance with the estate plan.

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For many high-worth individuals in Texas, determining how to leave your wealth to your beneficiaries can be complicated. One aspect that people tend to overlook is planning for incapacitation should you become ill and unable to make decisions for yourself. Planning for incapacitation is just as important as the other aspects of managing your estate.

Steps in Planning for Incapacitation

You may think that a will or a trust are the only documents you need for estate planning purposes. However, those documents won’t help you in the present if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You’ll want to ensure that care for dependents and the orderly management of your wealth occurs if you are incapacitated for any reason and unable to make decisions. You should also stipulate end-of-life wishes if you end up in a vegetative state.

Several legal documents should be part of planning your estate and are relatively easy to draw up. These include:

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