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Estate planning can be helpful in event of incapacitation, death

The end of the year can understandably be quite hectic for families in Texas. However, estate planning is a critical part of planning for the future and many recommend that it be completed before the year's end. A few tips may help people to address this process effectively.

First, it is typically critical that a last will and testament be in place. Wills are used for transferring assets that are not based through people's beneficiary documents when these individuals pass away. A durable power of attorney is also a valuable part of an estate plan in that it authorizes somebody to make financial and legal decisions for another person should that other person become incapacitated as a result of a major illness or accident, for example. It is crucial that the person appointed to have this authority be someone trustworthy.

Yet another valuable estate planning tool is the health care proxy or the medical power of attorney. This document enables a designated adult to make health care decisions on another person's behalf if the other person cannot make these decisions. The living will or advanced health care directive is also significant, as it specifies a person's wishes for the care he or she will receive at the end of his or her life.

If a person dies without an estate plan, the state will end up dictating what happens to the person's assets. Unfortunately, the outcome may not be in line with that individual's wishes. Legal guidance can help people in Texas to engage in well-thought-out estate planning that reflects their desires and needs.

Source: fedsmith.com, "Protect Your Family with Important Estate Planning Documents", Carol Schmidlin, Dec. 20, 2016

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