Every adult should have a customized and comprehensive estate plan. Yet, the AARP reports that only 40 percent of Americans have a will—let alone the other estate planning documents that they need. In many ways, this is not a surprise: Estate planning can be intimidating. Many people want to protect themselves and their families, but they are not exactly sure what they should do or how they should get started.
At The Cawlfield Law Firm, PLLC, we want to make sure that you and your family have all of the tools and information you need to create a personalized estate plan. Here, our Celina, TX estate planning lawyer provides an overview of the most important things you need to know about the basics.
What is Estate Planning and Why Is It So Important?
A comprehensive estate plan can help people find a true sense of peace and security. It is the process through which arrangements are made for the day when a person passes away or becomes unable to manage their own affairs. With a well-prepared plan in place, you can help to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected—no matter what might happen. Here are four things that your estate plan will do:
- Provide Clarity: No one wants to leave their family dealing with confusion or conflict. A personalized estate plan should provide clarity on a number of different issues, including funeral & burial arrangements, who inherits what, and how an estate should be administered. With clear instructions, your loved ones will better be able to get through a difficult time.
- Preserve Assets/Property: Estate planning can help to preserve your assets and property so that you can best provide for your loved ones. A Texas estate planning attorney can help you minimize taxes and expenses—making sure that you are best able to leave as much as possible for the people you care about.
- Leave a Legacy: An estate plan allows you to decide what exactly will happen to your money and property. You can support your children, grandchildren, close loved ones, or important charitable causes.
- Protect Your Well-Being: Finally, a comprehensive estate plan is about more than simply making arrangements for transferring property. You should plan for how your health care decisions will be made and how your financial/legal affairs will be managed in the event you become incapacitated.
What Documents Do You Need as Part of an Estate Plan?
Beyond knowing the goals and purpose of an estate plan, you also need to have an understanding of the legal documents that are actually used to carry out your objectives. Depending on your specific circumstances, your estate plan may include:
- A Will: A will is a foundational estate planning document. Also referred to as a Last Will & Testament, it is often the most simple tool for naming heirs and distributing assets. Additionally, a will can be used to name an estate administrator, designate funeral and burial instructions, and even name a guardian for minor children or other dependents.
- Trusts: As important as it is to have a customized will, it may not be the most cost-effective or efficient way to pass down property/assets. Through a trust, you can leave financial protection to the people you care about the most. If you are considering setting up a trust, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced attorney.
- Powers of Attorney: A comprehensive estate plan should protect your health and well-being in the event that you are temporarily or permanently unable to manage your own day-to-day affairs. By setting powers of attorney—durable, financial, health care—you can ensure that a trusted loved one will have the legal authority that they need to take actions on your behalf.
- Advance Health Directives: Finally, if you have specific health-related instructions, you should consider setting up an advance medical directive. These are legally binding documents that can ensure that your wishes will be respected if you are no longer able to make your own decisions.
We know that estate planning can be complicated. If you have any specific questions about your rights or your options, Texas attorney Eddie Cawlfield is more than happy to review your case and walk you through the estate planning process. Our legal team will make sure that you have the proper estate planning documents in place so that you can achieve your goals and protect your family.
Call Our Celina, TX Estate Planning Attorney for Immediate Assistance
At The Cawlfield Law Firm, PLLC, our Texas estate planning lawyer provides reliable, fully personalized guidance to individuals and families. If you are ready to get started with the estate planning process, we can help. For a completely confidential initial consultation, please contact us today. With an office in Celina’s historic downtown, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Frisco, McKinney, Melissa, Sherman, Marilee, Prosper, and Denton.