More than half of Americans haven’t done their estate planning. That’s a big problem, says Melissa Stone Myers, an estate planning expert and Texas Legal attorney.
“Even if you don’t have much property, you still need a will. It can be a very simple one, but it’s much better to determine where your assets go yourself rather than leave it up to the state. Whatever little you have, you earned it. You might as well be the one who figures out what they want to do,” says Myers.
If you die without a will, the state decides what will happen to your assets and your children. Not only do you lose your say in your estate planning, but the process becomes more difficult and much more expensive for your family.
“If you have a will in Texas, it’s a less expensive process. If you don’t have a will, your family is going to spend a lot more time and money figuring it out,” says Myers.
With all the different kinds of documents available, how do you know what you need? Myers laid out four basic estate planning documents that every person should have:
1. Will or a Trust.
These documents say where your assets go when you die – your house, your car, money, stocks or bonds, etc. It also states who gets guardianship of any minor children.
2. Power of Attorney.
This document states who may act on your behalf for financial and legal affairs if you die or become incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself.
3. Medical Power of Attorney.
These documents state who has the power to make medical decisions for you in case you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It should include a privacy consent form that allows that person to access your medical records so they can make informed decisions.
4. Living Will or Medical Directive.
A living will allows you to make decisions about what care you receive if you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition and can’t advocate for yourself. It allows you to determine what what life saving measures or treatments you do or do not want.
Going through the process of estate planning can seem overwhelming, but it’s an important step to protect your family’s future. A legal plan like Texas Legal can help you get your estate planning done without breaking your wallet. An entire year of legal insurance premiums are often less than the cost of a simple will being drawn up.
However you decide to accomplish the task, get your estate planning complete now, and enjoy the peace of mind it provides, knowing your affairs are in order.