Houston Estate Planning Lawyer
Estate planning is an incredibly important process that can provide much-needed certainty, not only to the person creating the estate plan but also to their family. While most people think that estate planning only deals with what happens to your property after you die, in reality, estate planning is much broader. Essentially, estate planning involves identifying your long-term goals with regard to your health, finances, and decision-making and implementing a series of plans to accomplish them. At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, our Houston estate planning lawyers have more than 35 years of experience helping individuals and families through the estate planning process. Over this time, we’ve come to understand how to make the process as efficient and straightforward as possible.Fundamental Elements of an Estate Plan
Everyone’s situation is unique; thus, an estate plan must be custom-tailored to an individual’s or family’s specific needs. However, there are certain estate planning documents that serve as the basis for almost every estate plan. These include:Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a legal document in which you determine how you want your property distributed upon your death. If you die without a will, the court will distribute your assets based on the Texas intestate laws. These rigid rules fail to consider an individual’s preferences. In a will, you can also name someone you trust to administer your estate, as well as someone to care for any minor children, pets, etc.Trusts
Naming assets in a last will and testament ensures you have a say in where they end up. However, before the executor begins the distribution of these assets, the will must go through probate. Probate is the process in which a court recognizes a person’s death, validates their will, and ultimately blesses the distribution of their property. However, probate is often a lengthy and costly process, which can unnecessarily eat away at the value of your estate and delay the distribution of assets to your heirs and beneficiaries. A trust is a mechanism that allows you to bypass the probate requirement. By placing assets in a trust, they are not subject to probate and will pass directly to the intended beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts, which serve various purposes. For example, special needs trusts can provide for the care of family members with disabilities without jeopardizing their public-benefit eligibility.
Trusts 101: Why is Everyone Trying to Sell Me a Trust?Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document in which you give a trusted person the legal authority to make important financial and medical decisions on your behalf. There are many types of powers of attorney that can be customized to fit almost any situation. Most commonly, a power of attorney only becomes effective upon a finding that the drafter is unable to make decisions on their own.Advance Directives
An advance directive is similar to a power of attorney, except that an advanced directive gives another person authority to make healthcare and end-of-life decisions on your behalf. You can also provide detailed instructions to medical providers outlining the situations in which you desire life-saving or life-sustaining treatment.
Estate planning is an extremely important process that can provide you and your family with valuable peace of mind for years to come. However, it is important to periodically revisit your estate plan to ensure that it comports with your needs as you move through different stages of life.Contact the Houston Estate Planning Lawyers at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC Today
If you do not yet have an estate plan, or it’s been years since you last updated your plan, reach out to the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. For over 35 years, we’ve provided clients of all ages with friendly, personalized service designed to ensure their every need is met. When you call to schedule a free consultation, we will sit down with you for as long as it takes to gain a full understanding of your situation. From there, we will offer our honest advice about which estate planning products, and a flat fee plan that will help you meet your goals. To learn more, call McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, at 713-333-8900 today.