Where to Fit Funeral Plans into an Estate Plan?

When we start planning our estate, typically we tend to focus on where all the stuff goes. What happens to the house? How about the retirement accounts? Who should we make executor of the estate? However, what about want happens to you? Many people have a fairly good idea of what they want their funeral to be like, but the problem is that people don’t know where to put it in the estate plan.

Do you put it in the Will? No, by the time the Will is present to the Court for probate, your funeral service will already, and your remains will have been disposed.  To ensure that your remains are disposed of the way that you intend, you should consider a couple of options.  First, you should have a discussion with your closest family members to make sure that they understand your intentions.  Second, you should consider a prepaid funeral, where you select and pay for the funeral and burial options while you are alive.   Third, you can execute a document designating a person to have control of the disposition of your remains upon your death.  This document is valuable when you think that multiple people might disagree about the arrangements for your funeral and burial.

If you are getting ready to plan out your estate as well as your funeral, contact us today. The Ford + Bergner is dedicated to making sure that estate planning isn’t a huge headache.

The Secrets to a Successful Will

As long as the assets get distributed “naturally”, then technically every Will can be considered a successful Will.  A Will makes a natural disposition if it benefits your spouse first and then your children equally, or some similar disposition.  A truly successful Will can be measured as a Will that, once read, is carried out without difficulty, dispute, or an overly long probate process.  If you are looking to draft a Will that prevents disputes among your loved ones after you are gone, then consider implementing the following measures during the drafting process.

  • Explain the Decisions – You may think that a Will is just a place to put your wishes down, and in essence that is true, but there is plenty of room for explanation as well. In fact, including an explanation along with each decision will dramatically cut down on Will disputes because your reasoning is right there on legally binding paper.
  • Choose the Right Executor – Even if you wrote a rock-solid Will, if you choose the wrong person to serve as your executor to carry out the terms of your Will, then all your work can quickly be unraveled. The person you assign to carry out your Will is also responsible for caring for your estate as well, and it can be a lot of work. If you believe that one person may crumble under the responsibility or act unfairly to one or more family members, then you might want to consider assigning multiple people to the role.
  • Make Sure the Will Complies with the Correct Formalities – Your last testament can be a funny thing.  Whether your Will is handwritten or typed, specific requirements exist to make the Will valid.  You must ensure that you comply with these conditions to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly.

There is still a lot more to consider when drafting a will, so if you are in Texas and need a skilled estate planning attorney to advise you, contact us today.

Moving to a New State: Do You Need a New Will?

If you have just moved to Texas or are moving to another state, your Will is probably not very high up on your priority list. However, when you eventually get to it, the most common question will linger – is your Will still good in a new state?

In many cases, a Will that is valid in one state is  valid in all states.  However, the validity of a Will is determined by each specific state.  Texas requires most Wills to have 2 witnesses, while some states only one require one witness, and others require 3 witnesses.  Additionally, there are still a few other aspects to consider:

  • Handwritten – Texas recognizes handwritten (also known as holographic) Wills, but that is not the case in all states. Some states may recognize handwritten Wills if they are just signed and dated while others may need to be notarized. You need to familiarize yourself on the rules for your new state if you have a handwritten Will, but it may just be better to consider drafting a non-handwritten one instead.
  • Common Law vs. Community Property – If you are married, moving from a common law state to a community property state can throw a wrench into your estate plan.  In community property states, the assets acquired during the marriage are considered to be owned by both spouses equally, while in common law property states, income earned by one spouse or the other is deemed to be owned by the spouse who earned it.  Moving from a common law property state to a community property state, or vice versa, can affect the property that one spouse or the other might be able to control under his or her Will.

While those are the two most common factors to consider, there are many other small aspects that you want to talk over with your attorney. If you have just moved to Texas and want to discuss the validity of your Will, contact us today.

How Does Guardianship Differ From Power of Attorney

Both guardianship and power of attorney are legal tools that will help someone act in the stead of an incapacitated person. However, for many, they may be confused as to the difference between the two since they essentially play the same role. However, each does have some key differences.

Power of Attorney

What sets the power of attorney apart from a guardian is that they can be chosen by a person to act in their stead if they are incapacitated. The power of attorney is able to take over your financial matters if you are incapacitated, and their power can be as vast or as limited as you choose when you assign them.  The power of attorney can also be revoked as long as you have capacity to understand the implication of revoking the document.

Guardianship

A guardianship differs from power of attorney because a guardian is not chosen by the incapacitated person before the fact, but rather assigned by the court afterwards. As a guardian handles all financial, healthcare, and legal decisions for the incapacitated, it can lead to a profound loss of freedom for their ward. This is why a guardianship is only granted after less restrictive measures, like a power of attorney, are either ineffective or not already in place. This means that if you do not assign a power of attorney, a guardian may be assigned to look after your affairs, but their power can only be restricted by the courts.  Unlike the power of attorney, a guardianship cannot be revoked by the ward, unless the court determines that the ward has regained their capacity to make decisions for themselves.

If you are estate planning or considering a guardianship for your loved one, contact us today. We can help you lobby for guardianship or help put measures into place that in the event you are left incapacitated, the person you choose can take care of you.