The pandemic has put illness and the possibility of death on the minds of many. COVID-19 has compelled some people to think about their own mortality and the need to set their affairs in order.

Thinking about an estate plan doesn’t necessarily lead to taking action. In a May 2021 Gallup Poll, only 46% of respondents said they have a will, a percentage that has remained steady for three decades. Only 20% of those younger than 30 have one.

If you want to have more control over your future, now is the time to contact an experienced Travis County attorney for comprehensive estate planning. At Hembree Bell Law Firm, our attorneys will guide you.

Using Estate Planning To Protect Your Loved Ones

If you do not have a will in Texas, the state will decide how your property is distributed according to the rules of intestate succession (Estate Code Title 2, Subtitle E, Chapter 201, Subchapter A).

By having a will, you determine how your property is distributed and to whom. That’s not the only advantage:

  • Set your intentions about the division of your property
  • Provide for stepchildren and others that would be left out by intestate succession
  • Determine who will care for minor children
  • Reduce family conflict after your death
  • Trusts are another essential planning tool. An advantage of trusts is that they cannot be contested in court.

Other advantages of a trust include the following:

  • Trusts are private (wills are public record after your death)
  • Trusts are active the day they are created
  • Revocable trusts can be revised
  • Irrevocable trusts cannot be revised but are best in certain circumstances
  • Assets in a trust are protected from probate
  • An estate plan often includes a trust as well as a will.

Using Estate Planning To Protect Yourself

You can use estate planning tools to protect yourself while you are living. According to the National Council on Aging, 10% of Americans aged 60 or older have been victims of elder abuse. Creating one or more powers of attorney is one way to help prevent elder abuse.

You predetermine who can make decisions for you should you become unable or incapacitated. Without this designation, the state could determine who should make those decisions. A family member you don’t get along with, or even a professional conservator, could be given this power.

Powers Of Attorney include the following:

  • General power of attorney enables the selected person to handle a broad range of business affairs, including real personal and property actions
  • Limited power of attorney allows the selected person to act on your behalf for a specific transaction
  • Health care power of attorney allows the identified individual to make medical decisions, including end-of-life
  • Financial power of attorney authorizes the person to handle financial matters such as selling property and paying bills
  • The person (or people) you select for power of attorney should be someone you deeply trust. You should have extensive conversations with this person so they fully understand your wishes and preferences.

Never Too Soon Or Too Late For Estate Planning

We don’t know what the future holds. No one wants to think about premature death or a debilitating illness or injury, but there is no way to predict what the next moment brings. One thing you can control is now. You can take the legal steps to guide what happens when you are gone or if you become incapacitated.

With proper planning, you can protect your assets and save heirs from conflict, frustration, and potential tax burdens. Our experienced team at Hembree Bell Law Firm will suggest the tools that best fit your financial considerations and personal goals.

Contact us online or by calling (737) 265-7656. It is never too soon to protect your future.

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