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Estate Planning is the practice of law wherein a lawyer will help a person prepare legal instruments and make recommendations to ensure the property, assets, and estate of that person are distributed according to that person’s wishes in case of death or becoming incapacitated. This can be accomplished by considering the tax effects, drafting wills, creating trusts, considering insurance arrangements, gifts, and other legal documents such as a Will and Powers of Attorney.

A General Power of Attorney grants another person the ability to act on your behalf in handling your everyday affairs such as paying bills. A Medical Power of Attorney is meant to handle your medical treatment should you be unable to do so. A Directive to Physician or (a living will) will direct a doctor or hospital to make decisions about end of life circumstances. A Will is one of the most basic and important instruments that a person or family should have. This document controls what happens to an individual’s estate such as: his home, cars, and other important property. If a person does not have a Will then the individual’s estate is distributed according to Texas law which could result in an unfortunate distribution to heirs that you may not want to receive property such as to children from a previous marriage. The Will takes effect immediately upon the death of a person at which time all Powers of Attorney that you may have are null and void.

Probate is the process of going to a Probate Court to distribute a person’s estate after they are deceased. Distribution of a person’s estate includes a determination as to whether or not a probate is actually needed. If a person does appropriate planning he or she may be able to avoid a probate or limit the probate in scope.

Probate includes the defense of a probate claim filed by another interested party or a Will contest.

For a person whose main asset is a home, a Transfer on Death Deed may be the best way to transfer a home between spouses or to their children. This is a new method of transferring property that the Texas Legislature has recently created, which allows the transfer of a home much like the transfer of a joint bank account to a survivor and possibly avoids a probate.