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Legal help with "ancillary" parts of estate planning

Even Texans who are drafting estate planning documents and taking the necessary steps to protect their assets and their heirs need to cover all the bases. Part of that is knowing about "ancillary" parts of the estate plan. These factors might not come to the forefront when drafting estate planning documents, but they can be as, if not more, important than the basics like wills, trusts and other documents.

Ancillary documents will address such issues as illnesses or injuries that leave the testator unable to decide on his or her own how best to deal with various circumstances. It is not easy to consider this possibility, but it is imperative and taking the necessary steps is an integral part of a comprehensive estate plan. There are many different documents that can be part of ancillary estate planning and an attorney who is experienced in estate plans can help to determine which are a priority.

A financial power of attorney will allow a designated person the right to make decisions for the testator if the testator is incapacitated. Living wills detail the desires of the testator and can extend to end of life care. An order saying "do not resuscitate," could be important when there is medical care and it is not known what the person wants and how far to go in terms of treatment. Guardianship is of paramount importance if there are children under the age of 18 and the testator would like to name a specific person to care for the child. Medical information cannot be released unless this is specifically addressed and an HIPAA release and accompanying authorizations can accomplish this.

For those who are unsure whether they require ancillary estate planning documents, the simple decision is based on whether the testator would like to have a trusted representative to make the decisions or if it will be left up to the court at financial and personal cost. Having these documents is a protective device not just for the individual, but for the family as well. Having an attorney who can explain the benefits and detail whether it is necessary to have ancillary estate planning documents is crucial to making this decision.

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