Estate Planning Lawyer Austin, TX
Everyone loves to save money. We shop around online for the best deal on a product, or we cut costs on a project by doing the work ourselves. In many cases, it makes perfect sense to take the do-it-yourself approach. But for certain projects – especially those that cannot risk mistakes – it is important to work with an experienced professional.
Estate planning is one such project. Many people are tempted to create an estate plan by downloading and filling in free forms they find online. But while this approach may save you money on the front end, it could very well end up costing you and your family much more money later on. Most importantly, it could leave your loved ones without clear guidance about your final wishes. As a result, it is a good idea to speak with an estate planning lawyer Austin, TX residents trust before constructing or revising any element of your estate plan. The experienced team at Gray & Becker, P.C. is happy to help you efficiently and effectively navigate your estate planning needs as they arise.
In Estate Planning, Customization is Crucial
When you fill out a generic form that you have found online, you are limited by what’s already on the form. A DIY will or other estate planning document may not cover everything in your estate, and it may not allow you to thoroughly explain complex instructions for the distribution of your property.
The end result is likely an incomplete estate plan that may lead to confusion when it comes time to carry out your wishes. This means that your loved ones are less likely to honor those wishes. It is also worth mentioning that you won’t be around to answer any questions your loved ones may have or provide clarity and guidance.
An experienced Austin, TX estate planning lawyer can create thorough, clear and legally sound estate planning documents for you. Our team will also know which questions to ask to ensure that you don’t overlook important details.
Avoiding Family Strife and Estate Litigation
The last thing that most people want is for their families to quarrel over assets left behind in an estate plan. The clearer you can be in your will and other documents the less likely this is to happen.
Unresolved inheritance issues can quickly escalate into litigation. And in addition to being stressful for all involved, litigation is expensive. The money you save doing DIY estate planning is negligible compared to how much money could be lost in a lengthy legal battle. And estate funds are often those used to pay for litigation.
Your Estate Plan Can Serve as a Fond Farewell
An estate plan is a great way to take care of your loved ones after you pass away. Giving your family an inheritance with minimal estate taxes, minimal probate and minimal hassle is a wonderful way to show how much you care. Moreover, good estate planning also gives you the opportunity to leave a legacy by making sizeable donations to organizations and causes you care about. Additionally, our Austin, TX estate planning lawyer team can help to ensure that you have power of attorney and advance healthcare directives in place to better ensure that your wishes are respected in the event that you are incapacitated by illness or injury.
Planning For Later in Life
Although the term estate planning strictly focuses on the documents and legal processing governing transfer of assets after death, this term can also be broadened to include general late-life planning. Together, these two areas of focus fall under the umbrella of “elder law.”
While you are writing wills and creating trusts to secure your assets, you may also want to be thinking about the kinds of issues you may face late in life – financial, physical and cognitive.
Planning Medical Care and Incapacity
Americans are living much longer than in the past, but quantity of life isn’t the same and quality. Unfortunately for many, advanced age comes with cognitive and physical decline. That’s why it is so important to prepare for a scenario in which you may become unable to make or communicate important decisions on your own.
There are three tools you can implement now in case of physical or mental incapacity. They include:
Appointing durable power of attorney: This is the act of designating someone you trust to make important decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make or communicate them yourself. Usually, these decisions are related to your finances, assets and living arrangements.
Appointing medical power of attorney: This is the act of designating someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. In both cases, designating power of attorney allows you to choose an agent to act on your behalf (if it ever becomes necessary) rather than a court-appointed guardian.
Making an advance directive or living will: This document lays out your wishes for end-of-life medical care, including whether or not you want to receive life-saving or life-sustaining treatments. Your medical power of attorney should be very familiar with this document and your medical wishes generally so that any decisions not already specified in the document can be made in your best interests.
Power of attorney and advance directives are important ways to help you direct your late-life medical care and other important decisions before there is ever a question of incapacity. We can help you with all three as part of a larger estate plan.
Long-term Care Planning
Our health and housing needs change as we age. For those who must go into a nursing home or hire in-home medical professionals, costs of care increase dramatically. If you suspect that you or a spouse may need this type of care in the future (or simply want to be prepared for anything), there are a number of planning options to help you set aside funds for long-term care planning while protecting a portion of your assets.
The experienced team at Gray & Becker, P.C. can discuss these options with you during our initial consultations. Some of the topics you may benefit from exploring include Medicare planning, specific insurance policies, taking advantage of veterans’ benefits, and any other resources that may be available.
Selecting a Guardian for Your Dependents and Pets
One of the most important parts of estate planning involves guardianship designations. If you’re a parent to a minor child or a dependent adult, it’s critical that you name a guardian for those individuals in the event that you pass away. No one likes thinking about the possibility of an untimely passing. But because none of us knows how long we have before our estate plans become urgent business, failure to plan ahead cannot be treated as a viable option. In the event that you pass away before your children reach the age of majority (or your dependents are no longer dependent on you), you’ll want to ensure that they’re entrusted to those adults most capable of caring for their needs and advocating for their best interests.
The experienced team at Gray & Becker, P.C. can help to ensure that you designate guardians in a clear, legally-binding way. We can also help to ensure that your wishes are honored in the event that there is anyone whom you explicitly do not want to have claims to your child(ren). Similarly, if you have pets, we can help you to draft legally enforceable guardian/ownership designations for these members of your family as well.
Thinking About Your Digital Estate
Finally, it’s important that you consider working with an experienced Austin, TX estate planning lawyer concerning matters related to your digital estate. You may not have spent much time thinking about your digital estate until now, but it’s possible that addressing this asset is just as pressing an issue as addressing any other property-related planning needs. If you’re like most Americans, you have an email account, at least one social media account, and you access your banking information online. Chances are that your online engagement extends well beyond these basics. However, even if these are the only activities you engage in online, you’ll need digital estate provisions in your estate plan.
Think about every website you access online that requires a login and password. Think about anything you’ve ever written, created, or otherwise created that is saved to an online platform or is saved on the Cloud. Constructing estate planning provisions that address your digital estate will allow you to choose who may and may not have access to your accounts, intellectual property, and other online “footprints” online. Without specifying these permissions, your loved ones may struggle to gain access to valuable assets you’ve stored online. Additionally, some individuals may be granted permission to access your digital estate even if this isn’t what you would have wanted. It’s important to act now to avoid either/both of these outcomes.
Contact Us To Get Started
Our Austin, TX estate planning lawyer team is ready to help you draft an estate plan that meets your needs and goals and gives you peace of mind. Contact us in Austin, Texas today to arrange an initial consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.