Personalized Support With Wills And Probate
All Texas residents need an estate plan. At Alagood Cartwright Burke PC, we will explain your options and recommend the best course of action given your situation. Below we have provided answers to frequently asked questions. If you still have questions, contact our experienced legal team online or call us at 940-308-8463.
- Why do I need a will?
- When should I get a will?
- Do I need a new will?
- What is a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, and why do I need one?
- What is a Medical Power of Attorney, and why do I need one?
- What is a HIPAA Release, and why do I need one?
- What is a living will?
Why Do I Need A Will?
There are three important reasons why you need a will:
- Ensuring that your wishes are carried out when you pass away, which can be enforced by a court of law if necessary
- Avoiding disputes among loved ones, even well-meaning ones, after your passing away, which will only make a bad situation worse
- Avoiding paying thousands, or potentially tens of thousands, of dollars in attorneys fees for a court to make the decisions that you could have made for a relatively small amount of money — decisions that you may never have agreed to if you were alive.
In short, a will allows you to designate, among other things, who you want your property to be given to when you pass away, who will handle your estate and affairs when you die (also known as an executor), and who you want to designate to be the guardian of your children (if their other parent does not survive you).
Of course, there are many myths and misconceptions that people have regarding wills. For example, many people believe that they do not need a will because they do not own a lot of property; they are still young with a long life ahead of them; or they have told their friends and loved ones their wishes and that everyone, including a probate court, must respect these wishes. Unfortunately, these myths and misconceptions are a recipe for disaster.
When Should I Get A Will?
As soon as possible. Many people believe they have time to get a will and simply put the matter off. Do not fall into this trap. At Alagood Cartwright Burke PC, we strive to make the process as simple, affordable and economical as possible.
We provide a simple questionnaire for you to complete. Your answers can then be emailed or faxed. If there are any questions about your answers, we can discuss this over the phone or by email. A draft of your will can then be emailed or faxed to you for your review. All changes can be handled by email or fax. We can then set up a meeting at your convenience to sign the will. Importantly, the cost of a simple will, with no specific gifts being made by you (e.g., your diamond broach to your aunt Betty), is a flat fee and is very affordable and economical.
Do I Need A New Will?
If you already have a will, the question is often asked whether you need a new one? Generally speaking, if a will is properly prepared, you should not have to get a new one. However, life changes pretty quickly. People get divorced, children are born, and people you designate as guardians for your children move away or they get too old to act as guardians. These are only some of the numerous life changes that can occur, which may trigger a need for your will to be reviewed and updated. Alagood Cartwright Burke PC is available for you to contact and assist you in making this decision.
What Is A Statutory Durable Power Of Attorney And Why Do I Need One?
A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, also known as a General Power of Attorney, is a document wherein you designate a person to act on your behalf in as many areas of your affairs as you want, including real estate, banking, contracts, stocks and bonds, and insurance transactions. (A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, however, will not allow your designee to make health care decisions for you; for that, you will need a Medical Power of Attorney).
Importantly, you control not only the scope of powers that you can grant but also when the power of attorney becomes effective and the length of time it remains in effect. For example, you may want it to become effective immediately (e.g., if you were an active-duty military member being deployed and you wanted to give your spouse authority to act on your behalf, or you are old and you want a child who is taking care of you to act on your behalf).
However, you can also make the power of attorney effective only when you become incapacitated and can no longer act on your own behalf. In this situation, a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney can allow the person you designate to pay your bills while you are sick and take care of the day-to-day activities that you will need to handle while you are in the hospital.
If your incapacity lasts for any period of time, the Statutory Durable Power of Attorney could save you thousands of dollars in attorneys fees to obtain the necessary orders from a probate court to permit the same activity the power of attorney would grant. At Alagood Cartwright Burke PC, we can prepare a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney for you at an affordable and economical price.
What Is A Medical Power Of Attorney And Why Do I Need One?
A Medical Power of Attorney is a document wherein you designate a person to make medical and health care decisions for you. Although you can typically make the Medical Power of Attorney effective for whenever you like, most people place an instruction in the Medical Power of Attorney that it takes effect only if they become unable to make their own health care decisions and such condition is certified in writing by their physician.
It is a simple, cost-effective way to have people you trust make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so. Failing to have one may require that a court enter an order designating someone to make such decisions for you, which can cost thousands of dollars and may result in someone that you did not want, or someone you do not even know, making health care decisions for you.
What Is A HIPAA Release, And Why Do I Need One?
HIPAA stands for “Insurance Portability Act.” Generally speaking, HIPAA bars a health care provider from releasing your personal medical information to others without your written permission. Under normal circumstances, you have ample time to determine if you want such information to be disclosed and designate who you want to have it disclosed to.
However, this becomes an issue if you are injured and unable to make such designations and give consent. In these situations, HIPAA’s stringent requirements can cause significant frustration and heartache to loved ones and friends who you may want the hospital or your physician to communicate with but cannot because HIPAA laws have not been complied with.
To avoid this problem, you can sign a HIPAA Release, also known as a Medical Information Release, which grants health care providers authority to speak with people that you designate about your personal medical information. At Alagood Cartwright Burke PC, we can prepare a HIPAA Release for an affordable and economical price so that you are not caught in this situation.
What Is A Living Will, And Why Do I Need One?
A living will helps you communicate your medical wishes at some time in the future when you are unable to make your wishes known because of an illness or injury.
In a living will, if you have a terminal disease or medical condition or an irreversible medical condition, you can designate whether you want all treatments to be discontinued except those needed to keep you comfortable, or whether you want to be kept alive using available life-sustaining treatments. At Alagood Cartwright Burke PC, we can prepare an Advance Directive for an affordable and economical price.