Houston, TX. Estate planning attorney, Nick C. Caridas, can answer your questions about wills and trusts. Licensed in Texas in 1981, Nick emphasizes sharing of knowledge and collaboration with his clients so that they can make informed, confident decisions. After reviewing these estate planning FAQs, contact us to discuss your specific circumstances, and let us help you plan successfully for your family.
A will is a legal document by which a person makes a distribution of his or her property, to take effect after death. A will may be modified or revoked during the lifetime of its maker.
A will is necessary to ensure that your wishes are honored after your death — including your choices of estate executor, beneficiaries and guardians for your minor children. In many cases, careful preparation of a will can lessen estate taxes. If your beneficiaries include a person with disabilities or a young person, your will can provide for the creation of a trust to benefit these beneficiaries.
A trust involves the transfer of property from one person — called a settlor — to the control of another person — called a trustee — to be held and used for the benefit of a third person — called a trust beneficiary.
Many estate plans do not require a trust. However, trusts are often essential to ensure the proper management of property left to individuals who are minors, disabled or not quite mature enough to manage the trust property.
A living trust is created by an individual during his or her lifetime. The settlor of the trust often acts as the trustee and manages the trust. The use of a living trust does not typically save estate taxes unless it is a specialized irrevocable trust.
A living will is also sometimes called a “Directive to Physicians” and is a set of medical directives to healthcare professionals made by a person while competent that is to be used in the event that the person should become incapacitated or be in a state of prolonged unconsciousness and unable to express their wishes regarding treatment if the person is either in a terminal condition or an irreversible condition.
A durable power of attorney is a written document signed by a competent individual that authorizes another person to act as the individual’s agent — typically in financial matters. Unlike normal powers of attorney, a durable power of attorney allows the agent to act on behalf of the maker even after the maker’s incapacity.
A medical power of attorney is a written document signed by a competent individual that authorizes another person to make medical decisions for the maker, if the maker is incapable of expressing such decisions.
A will does not govern the transfer of certain types of assets (non-probate property) which pass directly to a beneficiary outside of the terms of your will upon your death. For instance you can establish “pay on death” financial accounts that pass automatically to the beneficiary you name upon presentation of a death certificate.