Posts Tagged ‘Texas estate attorney’

Don’t Think You Need a Power of Attorney: Think Again! [Part II]

Friday, July 19th, 2013

This is the continuation of our discussion of the benefits to be derived from a power of attorney in Texas. Even if you have not gotten around to having a complete estate plan developed, this simple document can solve many problems including incapacity planning, authorization for medical treatment for your children and more. If you have not yet read the first installment in this series, it may be helpful to do so before proceeding.

Medical Care for Personal Injury: If you are injured in a motor vehicle crash or other accident so that you are unconscious or in a coma, a durable power of attorney for medical decisions can empower the person of your choice to execute medical decision and authorize medical treatments and test on your behalf. While a family member could go to court and seek a guardianship, this process involves formal court proceedings and medical testimony so it can cause unnecessary delay and entail avoidable expense. If you have a durable power of attorney prepared and provided to the person that you wish to make medical decisions if you become unable to do so, this will make the process simple, efficient and inexpensive.

Management of Financial and Business Affairs: If you are suddenly incapacitated by a catastrophic medical emergency like a heart attack or stroke or suffer other injuries that render you incapable of managing your financial affairs, a Texas durable power of attorney can provide authorization to someone you select to manage your business or finances. Again, this can be done under court supervision when a family member or someone else close to you files for a guardianship, but this is comparatively costly and will result in delay so there may be no one with apparent authority to act to protect your financial interest in the interim. Further, the person who will watch out for your financial interest will be selected by a judge who may not appoint the person who you would choose if the decision were left up to you.

Once you have made the decision to have a durable power of attorney prepared, you must consider how to go about crafting this estate planning instrument. While many people use standard forms that can be obtained in office supply stores or self-help legal books, this can lead to disastrous results. There is no assurance that these documents comply with Texas law. Further, any pro-forma power of attorney form will be a crudely written catch-all document that may not meet your particular needs or concerns. The standardized form may be too broad and grant authority to perform tasks that you are not comfortable delegating or too narrow in failing to authorize crucial tasks.

When you retain experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney Tom Reino, he discusses your specific objectives and so that he can customize a power of attorney to fit your unique situation. Further, you can be confident that the document will comply with Texas legal requirements. If you have questions or need estate planning documents prepared, we invite you to contact us at 817.303.2133 or send us an email at tom@tomreinolaw.com so that you can set up an initial consultation.

Important Texas Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid [Part II]

Friday, June 21st, 2013

This is Part II of our two-part blog covering key estate planning mistakes that you should avoid to ensure that you obtain the maximum benefit and protection from your estate plan. While we have provided general information about errors committed by many people, the best way to obtain specific information about you unique circumstances is to speak with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney.

Stay away from amateurs.

There are some non-professionals that refer to their business as a “paralegal document preparation service” or “typing service.” People should be very cautious about relying on such services unless they confirm that the person providing the services is a licensed Texas estate planning attorney. Estate planning is one of the most complex areas of law so relying on a non-attorney to handle your estate planning needs is extremely risky. While a nurse practitioner may be excellent at what he or she does, you may not want this person to perform your triple bypass cardiac surgery. Given the high stakes for you and your family when setting up an estate plan, the decision to rely on someone who is not a licensed attorney with legal malpractice insurance is equally ill advised. Many people who attempt to use this type of “cost cutting” strategy make devastating mistakes like failing to fund their trust.

Provide a treasure map.

If you prepare a notebook that lists all of your assets and provides the critical financial information that a trustee or administrator of your estate will need, this can make the process of handling your estate upon death more efficient and less costly. There are many assets that you may not even remember that you have like a small life insurance policy from an employer you worked for many years ago. If you keep all of your title documents, retirement account statements, bank account records and similar documents with a list of assets and current values updated you will make administration of your estate less costly and more efficient for your family.

Make sure to get periodic estate planning “checkups.”

Many people prepare a will and durable power of attorney when they are in their thirties and presume that their estate planning is handled. However, there are many events in one’s life that will trigger the need to review your estate plan and update your documents. These may include the birth of children or grandchildren, your divorce or remarriage, divorce of a child, retirement from your business or occupation and many other major life changes. There are also frequent changes in the law that can impact your estate plan so it is important to periodically contact your Texas estate planning attorney to determine if you need to make any revisions to your estate planning instruments.

Review your insurance beneficiary designations.

Some of your assets will not pass via your living trust or a will in probate court. Certain assets like your home may pass according to the title if you own it in “joint tenancy,” which is true for many marital partners. Similarly, some assets like insurance policies will include a place to designate a beneficiary, and this designation will determine who receives the proceeds under the insurance policy. These designations should be reviewed periodically especially in certain situation, which include but are not limited to the death of a spouse, divorce and remarriage.

At our Arlington estate planning law firm, Thomas D. Reino carefully evaluates your estate to create an estate plan that is appropriate for your specific situation. If you have questions or need estate planning documents prepared, we invite you to contact us at 817.303.2133 or send us an email at tom@tomreinolaw.com so that you can set up an initial consultation.