Tip: Estate Planning is Important to Help Your Family Members Take Care of You While You are Still Alive
Not only do you need careful, well-done estate planning when you pass away, you also need estate planning when you are alive and too ill to take care of yourself. Help your family members carry out your wishes when you are too sick to do so by creating these three important documents:
(1) a durable power of attorney (allows your chosen agent to handle your financial and legal affairs);
(2) HIPAA Release (allows your doctors to share your confidential health information with your chosen agent); and
(3) Directive to Physicians (allows your chosen agent to make medical decisions on your behalf).
Tip: What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
The Texas Probate Code determines how your property in your estate will be divided among your legal heirs.
(1) If you are unmarried and without children, the following occurs under the Texas Probate Code: (a) Your parents will inherit your estate in equal shares if both parents are alive; (b) If only one parent is alive, the living parent will inherit your whole estate if you do not have siblings, or the living parent will inherit half of your estate and your siblings (or their descendants) will inherit the other half of your estate; and (c) Your living siblings (or their descendants) will inherit your estate in equal shares if your parents die before you.
(2) If you are unmarried with children, then your whole estate will pass to your children in equal shares.
(3) If you are married without children, your surviving spouse inherits your entire estate.
(4) If you are married with children, the following occurs under the Texas Probate Code: (a) If all of your children belong to your surviving spouse, your surviving spouse inherits all of your community property; (b) If all of your children do not belong to your surviving spouse, then your surviving spouse inherits one-half of your community property, and your children inherit the other half in equal shares.