Guest and Gray, P.C. is a full-service law firm that offers our clients in Rockwall and Kaufman counties a wide variety legal services. One of those services is estate planning services. When speaking to clients and potential clients, the biggest misconception that we find is when speaking about the full scope of what an estate plan actually. Most people assume that a Last Will and Testament is the estate plan. Boom. Done. However, the Last Will and Testament is simply a piece of an estate plan.
A basic estate plan typically includes 5 separate documents: the Last Will and Testament, Durable General Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Physician’s Directive (often referred to as the “living Will”), and a HIPAA release. Now, not everybody will need the full basic estate plan, however, in all likelihood, you will need at least a combination of the above. Why? because it helps to provide you with certainty as to what will happen to your belongings or affairs should you pass away or become incapacitated.
In estates with large assets you may also want to set up a trust. There are several reasons for wanting to do this, some of which are tax reasons (and to obtain those reasons, contact your CPA), and others where you want to avoid the potential issues that arise in probate. If you transfer your assets during your lifetime into a trust, then the need for probating an estate becomes virtually nil and the trust just keeps on trucking along after you pass away. Good right? Can be. In counties like Rockwall and Kaufman, where you have an influx of high income individuals (Rockwall county is the wealthiest county in Texas according to 2016 Census reports and Kaufman county is exploding with development and new mid-to-high-end home starts). This creates a lot of reasons why you may want to think about adding a trust to your estate plan.