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Estate planning involves creating 4 essential documents

It is common to think that an estate plan is not necessary if there is not much money is in the bank. However, whether an estate plan is needed or not is not based solely on the amount of wealth present. Anybody with anything of worth in Texas may benefit from the estate planning process.

Four documents in particular are part of a detailed estate plan. One is the will, which directs how assets that do not have beneficiary designations will be distributed. A trust may also be handy for providing long-term protection for a minor child or even other beneficiaries who are not mature enough to get their inheritances outright. Trusts can be established in wills.

Healthcare proxies are also important estate planning documents. These documents designate health care agents, who make medical decisions for those signing the proxies, known as the principals, if the principals become incapacitated. For instance, healthcare proxies can decide whether the principals should take certain medications or undergo certain medical procedures. Durable powers of attorney are also important for designating people to make monetary decisions for the incapacitated. The authorized individual can handle real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and even life insurance as necessary.

If there is no will in place when an estate owner dies in Texas, the estate will end up being distributed according to the state's intestacy law. Unfortunately, the outcome of this distribution may not be in line with what the asset owner would have wanted. An estate planning attorney can help with the process of creating a clear and comprehensive plan that reflects the owner's wishes and needs.

Source: businesswest.com, "An Estate Plan Is Only Four Documents Away", Gina Barry, March 7, 2017

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