You have probably been told by more than one well-meaning family member, co-worker, or friend how important it is to create a comprehensive estate plan. If you have yet to take the time to create yours it may be because you don’t have a thorough understanding of what an estate plan in Texas is and what it can do for you and your loved ones.
When you think of an estate plan you likely think in terms of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is the foundation of any comprehensive estate plan; however, most estate plans contain much more than just a Will. Your Will provides the framework from which the rest of your plan grows. It may actually include specific or general gifts to family members and loved ones, or it may simply refer to other components such as trust that actually dispose of your estate assets.
Along with disposing of estate assets through a Will and/or trusts, an estate plan often includes other components such as incapacity planning, long-term care planning, or retirement planning. Which additions you include in your estate plan will depend on your unique circumstances and goals. In the absence of an estate plan, the laws of the State of Texas will ultimately decide what happens to your estate assets. Moreover, a court may end up deciding who will make decisions or your if you are incapacitated at some point down the road.
An incapacity plan is something that most people include in their estate plan because of the high possibility of becoming incapacitated at some point in their life. By including an incapacity plan in your estate plan you can decide ahead of time who will make important decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. You can also make life and death health care decision now that will impact the manner in which you die when the time comes.
You may also decide to include long-term care planning given the extraordinarily high cost of long-term care in America. Often, a couple can lose a lifetime of savings in a very short period of time if they are forced to pay out of pocket for nursing or residential care facilities. Long-term care planning may include Medicaid planning, long-term care insurance, and/or the creation of an asset protection trust, among other components.
Your comprehensive estate plan could also include special needs planning, LGBTQ planning, pet planning, or a wide variety of other components depending on what your needs are. The important thing is that you sit down with an estate planning attorney and determine what those needs are and how best to ensure that they are met in your estate plan.