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Seguin Estate Planning Law Blog

What estate planning tools may work best for Texas residents?

When creating an estate plan, many Texas residents may not know what documents could work best for their circumstances. Because there are a variety of tools and options that could potentially be utilized, this type of confusion is understandable and not uncommon. In hopes of better narrowing down what type of estate planning methods may work best, individuals may want to assess their needs and desires.

If parties are fine with the idea of their estate going through probate, creating a will may work as the foundation of their estate plans. Individuals can use this document to name their desired executor or personal representative, and that person will have the duty of seeing that the estate moves through probate correctly. This process helps ensure that affairs are settled as they need to be.

Texas estate planning not just for after-death wishes

It is not unusual for individuals to consider their estate plan as a manner to express wishes for what should take place after their deaths. However, estate planning can also prove immensely useful for parties who are still alive. Because incapacitation and long-term care needs are a reality for numerous people, having plans in place to address those concerns may be beneficial.

Because the possibility exists that many Texas residents will be unable to make medical decisions for themselves at some point in their lives, creating an advanced health care directive or power of attorney may be in their best interests. This type of document allows for parties to appoint a trusted individual to make medical decisions in the event of incapacitation. Individuals may also want to ensure that their desired medical treatment is known so the agent can act accordingly.

Texas estate administration issues may require legal action

Estate issues can often cause considerable conflict among family members. When a substantial amount of money is at stake, surviving loved ones can often feel a great deal of tension when working toward what they believe is the right outcomes for estate administration. Texas residents may be interested in one such situation currently underway in another state.

The estranged wife of a recently deceased millionaire is currently at odds with the estate due to the outcomes of the man's estate plans. Reports indicated that the man's bank currently has control over the estate as the man transferred his largest trust into the bank's control just months before his death. However, the wife believes that undue influence contributed to this decision and that she should have more control.

Notice of probate may kick off legal proceedings in Texas

The death of a loved one often acts as a catalyst for many life changes. Texas residents may need to make accommodations in order to fill the roles the deceased person may have played in their lives, and surviving family may also have many responsibilities with which to contend in order to address the decedent's estate. If the person did not take steps to avoid the process, probate proceedings will likely be necessary.

In order to begin this legal process, a petition must be filed with the court. Next, a public notice is often provided in order to give interested individuals information relating to the probate proceedings for a particular estate. For example, a notice was recently published to indicate that a family member for a deceased man had filed the petition for probate and to become the personal representative for the estate.

Estate administration: Carrie Fisher's daughter to inherit estate

The passing of a loved one often leaves surviving family feeling the emotional impacts for a substantial amount of time. While working through the process of grieving, many individuals often have to deal with legal proceedings surrounding estate administration. The actions necessary for administration may go smoothly if an estate plan was in place, but some confusion and complications could still arise.

Texas residents may be interested in the details surrounding the administration of late actress Carrie Fisher's estate. It was recently reported that the estate will go to Fisher's 24-year-old daughter, and only child, Billie Lourd. Assets considered part of the estate include bank accounts, a vehicle, a life insurance payout and business ownerships. Smaller personal items will also be inherited by the young actress. 

Massive nursing home costs call for plan for Medicaid assistance

Generally, Medicaid is available in Texas to pay for an extended nursing home stay. However, the applicant for assistance must meet certain requirements, making it prudent to plan for Medicaid assistance in advance. The individual or married couple can facilitate that process by seeking the services of an attorney experienced in the practice of elder law.

Where one spouse enters a nursing home and incurs bills, the institution may sue the other spouse for those bills if no other mechanism for payment is in place. Generally, the spouse can keep the home in which she or he resides, a car and certain specified assets. There may be other programs allowed by law to convert assets or savings into retirement vehicles that qualify under IRS and Medicaid rules.

Long-term care planning includes avoiding some common pitfalls

Whether one resides in Texas or another state, there are some basic pitfalls to avoid when considering retirement and vital long-term care issues. For example, the cost of long-term care, including the costs of daily health care for an extended period, may run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses. If long\-term care planning means purchasing insurance for a few thousand dollars per year in preparation, it can constitute the dodging of a major financial bullet in one's later years.

Such planning can assure a much better quality of life in retirement because more options for the types of services one chooses may be expanded. In addition, one will enjoy peace of mind in the earlier retirement years knowing that a potential major obstacle is covered for the future. By smart money management now, the future does not have to hold unanswered questions that portend possible unwanted sacrifices in comfort and maximum independence.

Long-term care planning may include planning for Medicaid

Texas and other states impose federal rules and regulations for qualifying for Medicaid assistance by elderly applicants. Because Medicaid is a primary source of funding for nursing homes and similar institutions, long\-term care planning may include planning for this federal program. For those who cannot afford insurance to cover nursing home or other long-term care, Medicaid may be the main available remedy.

Sometimes, where there is close family planning, the elderly patriarch or matriarch may be able to stay at home and obtain the necessary care from a host of family and friends, along with supplemental private nursing when necessary. This type of alternative may or may not turn out to be feasible. Thus, Medicaid planning may be an important back-up strategy, even if it turns out that it is not needed.

Estate planning provides personal preference and peace of mind

In one's financial affairs and in life, there are two basic ways of doing things: organized and disorganized. Being organized in Texas and elsewhere is a good thing that results generally in success, whereas doing things in a disorganized manner, or not doing them at all, can cause financial and personal disarray. With respect to estate planning, an individual definitely wants to be organized to avoid disaster and to leave one's family and loved ones with smooth sailing after his or her death.

There are many reasons to organize one's affairs and to establish an estate plan. One of the most important is to have the peace of mind of knowing that your heirs will be taken care of according to your wishes and not according to the dictates of state law. If the estate plan is fully prepared, your heirs will not have to spend inordinate amounts of money and time to retain experts and attorneys to straighten out the results of a person's unplanned estate.

Estate planning works best when shared with family members

Family members may find it interesting to discuss financial issues, but generally that does not carry over to freely discussing topics of inheritance and estate planning. That is a mistake that families in Texas and elsewhere should correct wherever possible. Having open and detailed discussions about financial status and estate planning for the inevitable events of the future can be an emotional relief for all concerned.

Experience proves that those families that take up such topics and discuss them in detail lay the groundwork for better relations during life and a more efficient transition at death. No one really wants to see one's heirs fighting over assets, or sacrificing great amounts of time and money to get unprepared estates straightened out under circumstances of stress and uncertainty. Everyone enjoys better peace of mind with proper lifetime planning.

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