Gibson Law Group - July 2018


THE SHORT ANSWER IS YES. If you care about making life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone, you need an estate plan. It’s easier than you think. Some preplanning on your part will save those you care about from a load of trouble. According to a 2016 survey conducted by, 6 in 10 U.S. adults do not have a will. If you die without a will, the State of Texas will determine who will receive your assets. Your estate will have to go through probate court, which could require your loved ones to spend a lot of time and energy trying to get what is rightfully theirs. An estate plan ensures that you decide exactly who will benefit from your estate, and to what extent. Careful estate planning also ensures that the majority of your estate will not go to the government in the form of taxes imposed on the transfer of assets upon your death. Will This document allows you to identify the people or organizations that will receive your assets after you die. It also allows you to designate an “executor,” who is legally responsible for making sure your outstanding debts and taxes are paid and then distributing the rest to the heirs you’ve identified. Durable Power of Attorney This document gives someone the authority to act on your behalf. Depending on the scope of the power of attorney, the person could manage your bank accounts, buy and sell real estate, and deal with other people on your behalf. Advance Health Care Directive (sometimes called a Health Care Power of Attorney) This document spells out instructions for your medical treatment should you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself. It also gives you the opportunity to say whether or not you want to undergo the use of life support or participate in organ donation. Living Trust This document places your assets into a trust for your benefit while you’re alive, and then transfers all remaining assets to your designated beneficiaries after you pass away. Trusts are overseen in accordance with your wishes and by the trustee you select. Property left through the trust doesn’t have to go through probate court and will reach inheritors more quickly. It is important to remember that neither a will nor a trust will supersede any beneficiary that is named on life insurance policies or retirement accounts. That includes IRA or 401(k) plans. If you are interested in learning how estate planning can benefit you and your loved ones, or you need to update your existing estate plan, contact J.D. Milks at The Gibson Law Group. J.D. can be reached by email at jd.milks@gibsonlawgroup, or by calling (817) 769-4044. Here is a checklist of the basic documents you should have in your estate plan:

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