What Needs to be Done When a Loved One Passes Away?

When a loved one has passed those left behind are often at a loss for how to proceed.  What needs to be done?  When must it be done?  Can I delay the process to allow time to grieve?  Following are some general guidelines to help answer these questions for residents of Texas.  Since laws vary from state to state and change over time, you will want to consult an attorney to ensure you have information relevant to your Read More

The Importance of Planning When Your Loved Ones are Estranged

Everyone knows they should have a basic estate plan. Powers of Attorney grant decision making authority for incapacity and a will specifies what should happen after your passing. Many people fail to grasp the potential for complication when some of your loved ones are estranged. Consider the case of Sally who lost her adult son, George, in a car accident. Sally was no longer married to George’s father and George had Read More

Destroy Old Documents

At document signing ceremonies, I am often asked “What should I do with my old will, power of attorney and other estate planning documents?”  My answer remains the same.  The old documents should be destroyed and you should do it right away. Why the urgency?  If you don’t destroy them right away you may forget.  This forgotten will replaced by a newer will can turn the family upside down after a death.  While your Read More

Beneficiaries with Substance Abuse Issues

As I work with families on their estate plans, one of the more difficult issues that  is raised is what to do when a family member has a substance abuse problem.  Substance abuse effects people of every generation and takes on many forms.  Whether it’s alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal narcotics the affects on the family can be huge.  Families facing this concern should consider the following questions when Read More

Power of Attorney for College Students

As parents begin to prepare their high school graduates to leave for college the to do list can get quite lengthy.  One item that should be near the top is getting a medical power of attorney.  This is necessary because your child is now or likely soon will be eighteen and a legal adult.  This newly acquired adult status is often overlooked and comes with many new rights and responsibilities.  For example, your child Read More

Know the Difference Between Your Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will

I am often asked — what is the difference between a Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will? There are several differences between these two documents, but the primary difference lies in the scenario where each is used. A medical power of attorney allows a trusted friend or family member to act on your behalf regarding your medical decisions. This only arises in situations where you are unable to make medical Read More

Four Mistakes Many Executors Make

When it comes to handling the probate of a loved one it is easy to fall prey to these mistakes. These mistakes are made by surviving spouses, surviving children, surviving partners and other heirs but are easily avoided with a little planning and preparation. 1. Working with the wrong lawyer or law firm. This mistake can be hard to avoid. You may have called the person who prepared the will or was recommended by a Read More

Do You Know the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid

Many people confuse medicare and medicaid.  Medicare is provided to seniors over the age of 65.  It is a federal health insurance program.  Medicaid is a needs based federal assistance program that pays for health care for individuals with few assets and low income. Because the criteria for the two programs is different, qualifying for one does not mean you qualify for both.  The asset and income eligibility limits Read More

What to do After an Estate Plan is Complete

You have taken the important step.  You have visited with your attorney and completed your estate plan with their help.  Now what?  Do you just put the documents in a file and never give them another thought? On the contrary, there are several steps you should take.  You should speak with every person named in the documents.  Make sure they understand what you are asking them to do and ensure they know where to find Read More

The Death of an Adult Child

The loss of a child is never easy for the parents who have to bury them.  However, the pain of this loss can be compounded if the adult child does not have a will.  A will provides direction to those left behind for how all of the loose ends should be tied up.  What happens if there isn’t a will? If there isn’t a will the state statutes direct distribution of the estate.  The statutes also dictate who has standing to Read More