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Important decisions for the estate planning process

For some people in Texas, it is difficult to plan for death for a variety of different reasons. Many people believe that they will always have another day to go through the estate planning process. Unfortunately, unexpected accidents occur and medical issues arise that could ultimately prevent a person from creating the necessary documents that would both ensure that his or her wishes are known and provide for loved ones. If the estate planning process has been completed, families who are undergoing a great deal of stress may be better prepared for the decisions that must be made following the loss of a family member.

People who are anticipating the estate planning process must take stock of both their financial circumstances as well as the role they want certain people to play. A list of assets as well as their value, including real estate, life insurance policies and business interests, help create a better picture of the size of an estate. Additionally, a person going through the process will need to name people to fulfill certain roles. An executor will gather and distribute assets while naming a guardian helps ensure that underage children are cared for by a person of the parent's choice. Also, naming a medical power of attorney helps ensure that an individual who is aware of the person's wishes can make medical decisions if he or she becomes unable to do so.

Once drafted, it is important that previously created estate planning documents are destroyed. Keeping documents in a safe place, such as a fire-proof safe or safe deposit box, may be prudent. Additionally, giving pertinent people copies of the documents, such as the executor and named guardian, as well as information regarding the location of originals, could be beneficial. It may also be beneficial to have a frank conversation with these people regarding a person's wishes in regards to his or her estate and medical decisions.

It is possible to create these documents by a search of the Internet. However, personally creating these documents can result in plans that are not enforceable and susceptible to a successful challenge. As a result, many people in Texas turn to professionals with experience with the estate planning process.

Source: news.morningstar.com, "Get Your Estate Plan in Gear", Christine Benz, April 20, 2016

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