The future is unknown, and when you least expect it, tragedy may strike. Have some piece of mind knowing your family will be taken care of in the event you are no longer able to be there for them due to illness or death.
There are several documents that can ensure your wishes will be met should you be unable to voice them. Below is a brief description of each document the Law Office of Nancy E. Lusk can prepare for you.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
A Last Will and Testament (not to be confused with a Living Will) ensures that your property is divided as you so desire after you pass away. With this document, you may:
- designate beneficiaries that will receive a portion or all of your estate;
- express how you want to distribute your property (your assets may include your home, motor vehicles, financial accounts, retirements, etc.);
- appoint an executor – a person that distributes your assets as you have instructed after your debts, expenses, and taxes have been paid off; and/or
- name the person whom shall become the legal guardian of your minor children.
To have the legal capacity to create a Last Will and Testament in Texas, you must be of sound mind and:
- eighteen years of age or older;
- are or have been lawfully married; or
- are a member of the U.S. armed forces.
The state of Texas will recognize your Last Will and Testament as valid if it is one of the following:
- Attested Will – must be in writing, signed by you, and attested in your presence by two witnesses over the age of 14. (NOTE: the witnesses can not be related to you or be your medical provider.)
- Holographic Will – is written entirely by you, by hand (not typed), and signed. This does not require the presence or signatures of witnesses. However, so that there is no question as to its validity, a self-proving affidavit should be signed by yourself and two witnesses before a notary public.
Without a valid Will, the court may dispose of your assets as it sees fit.
MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
Through a Medical Power of Attorney, you appoint someone you trust (with your life) to make medical decisions on your behalf should you lose the ability due to illness, an accident, or old age. This person should be made aware of the medical treatment you wish to receive in various circumstances. Without this document, your medical treatment may be left in the hands of persons that do not know what medical treatment you desire—estranged family members, doctors, and, sometimes, the court.
DURABLE GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Durable General Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to act on your behalf and manage your affairs. This person will have the right to:
- make financial transactions;
- stock power;
- prepare your tax returns; and
- maintain a safe deposit box.
Unlike a Medical Power of Attorney, a Durable General Power of Attorney continues to be in effect even after you are incapacitated. However, you may decide when this document takes effect: immediately or when a specific event occurs (i.e. illness). Having someone to manage your finances (i.e. pay bills) or property (i.e. sell house) will give you peace of mind when you are in the hospital and are unable to handle these matters on your own.
DIRECTIVE TO PHYSICIAN
A Directive to Physician, also known as a Living Will, allows you to state, with specificity, the type of medical treatment you want to receive in certain circumstances when you are no longer capable of communicating your wishes to your health care providers. This signed and witnessed document only goes into effect when you cannot make your own medical decisions and your doctor determines your condition is incurable and irreversible.