The Law Office of Jo Ann Bui Leslie
Joan Leslie*

* Board Certified, Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Specializing in Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, 
Guardianship, and Probate & Estate Administration

Office Visits By Appointment Only: Dallas, Texas 75206

 

PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES BY PLANNING AHEAD

 

Are you and your family prepared for the unexpected? 

No one likes to think about the possibility of incapacity or their own death but establishing a comprehensive estate plan is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your financial affairs. A comprehensive legally valid plan is financially and emotionally less expensive than having no plan in place at all. (Truly. The few legal documents that you need cost only a small fraction of the cost that your family will have to spend if you do not have the proper documents in place.)  Such a plan will also spare your loved ones of unnecessary court involvement, expense, delay, and legal obstacles associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or if you unexpectedly become incapacitated due to an accident. 


IN THE EVENT OF DEATH

 

Why do I need a Will?

Truthfully,  YOU do not need a Will for when you die but your loved ones will wish that you had a valid Will prepared while you were alive and competent.  When you leave this earth,  YOU will not need to take a legal document with you but the reality is that it helps to protect your loved ones and your financial affairs.  It also gives you the opportunity to express in a legal document who your family is and dispose of certain types of your assets as you choose, and not how the State of Texas default laws dictate. (If you die without a Will, the default rules will apply but since the Judge does not know who your family members are,  the law requires that witnesses "prove- up" in an heirship determination court  prceeding who your family is.) 

 

 

Top Ten Reasons when having a proper Will is especially important:


1) If you have minor children;


2) If you own real estate;


3) If you have a significant other, life partner, or other loved ones that are not recognized as a spouse, heir, or other person with priority under the laws of the State of Texas; 


4) If you and/ or your spouse have been married before or have children outside of your current marriage; 


5) If you are a married adult but still want to provide assets at your death to your parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, charities, or other non-"nuclear" family members; 


6) If you have family members who do not get along (revocable living trusts may also be implemented);


7) If you have wish to defer or reduce the 35% federal estate tax that your family could face without proper planning (tax planning would most likely be necessary to accomplish this, along with other miscellaneous   estate planning strategies); 


8) If you own any type of on-going, profitable business or one that has sellable value (especially if you have children from a previous marriage);

 

9) If you have a Will but it is "outdated", does not reflect your current life, and especially if you have had life changes after the execution of such WIll, including divorce (especially if you have close relationships to step- family, e.g., step children), new marriage after such Will, children born after such Will, desire to change the named Executor(s), Guardian(s), Trustee(s), or Beneficiaries (e.g., persons receiving benefits) under your Will, either due to change of heart or death of any of the above named persons, general concern about whether your WIll is outdated, and/or


10) If you want to reduce the cost that your family will have to pay when you pass away and if you want to protect your loved ones from cumbersome, AVOIDABLE expenses and additional obstacles your family will encounter while administering your legal and financial affairs after your death.  


To learn more about dying without a Will,  click here. 

 

 

IN THE EVENT OF DISABILITY OR INCAPACITY


What does it mean to plan for the possibility of my own Incapacity?

Unfortunately, in the area of law practice I am in,  I often see "incapacity" impact adults and their families when they least expect it.  Incapacity is the legal way of saying that you are without the capacity to care for yourself and manage your financial property and affairs.  

 

If you unexpectedly get into an accident that puts you in this state of "incapacity", who will manage your affairs for you or be able to make medical decisions on your behalf?  

  • Although many people are under the mistaken impression that their spouse, parents, or adult children can automatically step in and take over for them, such persons most likely cannot act on your behalf without the proper legal documentation.  If you do not plan ahead and have these documents prepared,  then your loved ones will have to petition a court to become your legal Guardian to act on your behalf.  This process can be lengthy, costly, stressful,  and avoided. Also,  the reality is that if you do not decide ahead of time, the Court will decide who gets to act on your behalf. Sometimes, the Court will even appoint an attorney to take care of your affairs if no planning was in place to protect you. Even if the Court appoints the person you would have chosen, that person will now have to report annually to the Court and hire an attorney to represent them to tell the Judge how you are doing and how they are spending every penny you own. These type of legal fees are ongoing and sometimes have no end until your death. 

Almost every adult needs these type of legal planning documents AND advice on how to make them more effective.    

Incapacity Planning documents are particularly important:

1) If you are single; 

2) If you have a significant other, life partner, or other loved ones that are not recognized as a person with priority under the laws of the State of Texas; 

3) If you are a single adult and:

a) have parents who do not get along;

b) do not have parents; or

c) do not have parents and have adult children;

4) If you want to reduce the financial and emotional expense to your family if you ever become incapacitated.  

 

An incapacity document is not something that you have to pay regularly for or incur "ongoing expenses" for. It is a very inexpensive legal document that can save you and your family thousands of dollars if you ever become incapacitated. To find out more about this, click here.