What is a Revocable Living Trust?

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

How does a revocable living trust work? This question is an important matter that you can discuss with the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC, as soon as a potential need arises. If the question of how living trusts work in Texas is on your mind, you may feel overwhelmed. A revocable living trust, or living trust, is a legal document created during a person’s lifetime that permits a chosen trustee to manage that individual’s assets to benefit the current and future beneficiaries.

The dedicated Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC (512-505-2753) recognize just how serious questions related to living trusts are. Our team is committed to finding answers that work for you or your loved one who may need a living trust.

How Does a Revocable Living Trust Work?

Most people think of a last will and testament as the most common way to pass an estate on to beneficiaries. Another way is to create a revocable living trust. Depending on your particular circumstances, a revocable living trust may be the best choice for your estate plan.

To create a revocable living trust, a person (the grantor) signs a trust agreement naming a person(s), a corporation, or both as trustee to manage the trust. In Texas, the grantor and the trustee can be the same person. If you name a trust company or bank as trustee–instead of an individual, it ensures that a professional trustee will always be available to act in the best interest of a grantor.

A revocable living trust usually allows property to be managed for the grantor’s benefit. Usually, the grantor retains certain rights over the trust during their lifetime, including:

  • the ability to direct the trustee to give away all or any portion of the trust property;
  • the ability to revoke or change the living trust whenever they want;
  • the ability to make discretionary distributions of income and principal to the grantor and/or the grantor’s family

A revocable living trust acts as a last will and testament when a grantor dies, and property is distributed to beneficiaries following the trust document.

Generally, it’s best to fund the trust while the grantor is living, rather than when the grantor dies; that ensures continuity of asset management and financial support, should the grantor face a disability.

To fund a trust during a grantor’s lifetime, you must title real property, securities, and other assets in the name of the trust. Retitling property is not required for trusts funded at death when the probate estate is “poured over” into the trust. However, funding a trust at death may not avoid the necessity of probate.

Benefits of Revocable Living Trusts

1. Continuity of Management During a Disability

A revocable living trust is a great way to plan for your property to be used for your benefit– if you become mentally or physically incapable of managing your affairs.

The continuity of management is possible when a financial power of attorney is signed. Still, third parties (banks, brokers, and transfer agents) often have more trouble dealing with a power of attorney than a trust agreement. And, if the designated agent cannot act, a financial power of attorney will not be helpful.

Suppose you become disabled and don’t have a revocable living trust or a power of attorney. In that case, you may face a lengthy and expensive court proceeding to appoint a guardian for you before your property can be used for you (or your family).

Even after a guardian is named, ongoing court supervision for managing investments and disbursements is usually required.

2.  Flexibility

With a revocable living trust, out-of-state individuals or trust companies can administer your property at death if you choose. Also, it is usually easier to make changes to a revocable living trust than to a will.

3.  Avoiding probate

Probate is the court process required to determine whether a last will and testament are valid. Because probate can be costly and time-consuming, avoiding probate is one of the benefits of a revocable living trust. For example, if you have homes in more than one state, avoiding probate may be a significant benefit because you can avoid more than one probate proceeding. However, every state has a different probate process, so consult a local attorney.

4.  Immediate Availability of Assets at Death

Revocable living trust assets are available immediately after death to pay estate taxes, administration expenses, and debts without waiting for a probate court decree. If the trust is funded before death, the property in the trust remains in the trustee’s name before and after the death. It is immediately available for liquidation should the need arise.

5.  No Issue with Missing or Destroyed Originals

Original wills must be provided in court to avoid the suspicion that the will was revoked. Usually, one original must be produced at death. Because revocable living trusts avoid probate, many originals may be signed, and one original can validate property held in the trust at death. A revocable living trust can simplify property transfer at death if the original will cannot be found or is destroyed.

6.  No Interference with Investment Management

A primary benefit of revocable living trusts is providing uninterrupted investment management should the grantor become disabled and after the grantor dies. If you previously transferred assets to the trust, you don’t need to retitle securities after death. Additionally, depending on the grantor’s estate’s cash needs and investment objectives, there may be no need to create a new investment strategy.

Disadvantages of Revocable Living Trusts

A few disadvantages to revocable living trusts arise from the different treatment of trusts and wills under specific property laws.

1.  Funding Your Trust

In addition to creating your trust, you must take action to fund it. You must change beneficiary designations on accounts owned by the grantor. You must change your property to a trust’s name to include it in a revocable living trust, which may be difficult and involve costs like filing fees. As part of your estate plan, using a pour-over will transfer all additional assets into your revocable trust, so no assets have to go through probate.

2.  Adapting to Changed Circumstances

The grantor must be sure to update the provisions of a revocable living trust as things change.

SEEK THE PROFESSIONAL LEGAL GUIDANCE OF AN EXPERIENCED ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY

Trusts are very complex. If you have concerns about how trusts work, seeking professional legal counsel is well-advised. The experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC understand your cares and are dedicated to helping you find the most suitable path forward, given your circumstances. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

Estate Planning For Second Marriages

Estate Planning For Second Marriages

Estate Planning For Second Marriages

Estate planning for second marriages is often more complicated than estate planning in general. However, the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have an impressive track record of helping clients like you successfully resolve their estate planning concerns.

As you move forward with your life, develop your career, and begin a family, estate planning is an important tool for protecting your legacy and for helping to ensure your continued support of your loved ones. Estate planning is essential to ensure your legal and financial rights are protected. If you are preparing to enter a second marriage –or have already married for a second time –the matter is likely to be that much more important. If you need professional legal guidance with estate planning for second marriages, the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC (512-505-2753) have the legal insight, experience, and focus to help.

Critical Considerations for Second Marriages

If you are facing the issue of estate planning for second marriages, there are several vital matters to keep in mind as you move forward toward either updating your estate planning or melding your efforts with your spouse-to-be into an entirely new joint estate plan. Some of the considerations you will need to keep at the forefront as you move forward in the process include:

  • The inheritance of your children who were born before your second marriage
  • The inheritance of any children who may come from your second marriage
  • Those assets that you and your spouse will continue to own as separate property
  • Any assets that will be retitled in both of your names, such as bank accounts, your home’s mortgage, and more
  • Any edits required on current estate planning tools, such as powers of attorney, trusts, and/or advance directives in Texas.

Before a first marriage, you are much less likely to have built up considerable financial wealth or have children already. Because these factors tend to guide estate planning, they naturally complicate the evolution of your estate planning within a second marriage. The optimal time to discuss these matters is before remarriage. This can also help you determine if a prenuptial agreement may be in order (depending upon how much distance there is between what you are looking for in your estate plan and what your soon-to-be spouse is looking for). If you have already married for a second time, you should not delay addressing the matter of your estate plan.

Children, Second Marriages, and Estate Planning

One of the most important concerns about estate planning for second marriages is that your children naturally want to protect their inheritance. If your new spouse also has children, the matter of their position in your estate plan may also become an issue. Further, if any of the children are minors, you will also need to address who will manage their inherited assets upon you or your spouse’s death.

If you have already established a Last Will and Testament (will) or trust for your children, you will need to determine how this element of your estate plan could affect your new spouse’s inheritance and whether it is in keeping with your wishes on the matter. This often amounts to balancing the preservation of your children’s inheritance with the share of your estate that you wish your spouse to retain. If you are considering having another child or having more children within the second marriage, you will have the inheritance of both sets of children to consider. The challenges of estate planning for second marriages are considerable, but the dedicated Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you understand all of your legal options.

Understanding Beneficiary Designations

Because they forego probate, beneficiary designations are a powerful estate planning tool that allows the specific element of your estate to flow directly to the recipient whom you designate. Upon remarriage, it is important to carefully consider all of your beneficiary accounts to ensure they are designated appropriately in light of your new marriage. Such accounts can include:

  • Your 40l(k) and other retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Annuities

It is also important to consider how your real estate and bank accounts are titled. Because the choices you make toward this end can have profound effects, working closely with an experienced estate planning attorney is always well advised. For example, designating your second spouse as a joint tenant with the right of survivorship to your home is convenient to tie up loose ends. Still, it also entitles your spouse to full ownership upon your death –regardless of how your estate plan is arranged, including the distribution of your assets (according to your wishes).

Consequences of the Failure To Create an Estate Plan

In the State of Texas, if you die during a second marriage, have children from a prior marriage, and have no estate plan, your assets will be distributed as follows (per the state’s laws of intestacy):

  • Your spouse will be entitled to one-half of your marital property (those assets that you both acquired throughout your marriage), to one-third of your separate property, and to use of your real estate for life.
  • Your children will be entitled to everything else.

An important point to note here is that keeping separate property separate throughout the years of marriage is challenging. If you do not put considerable effort into the distinction, property that you may consider separate could be deemed marital in the eyes of the law. In other words, without an estate plan in place, your children’s inheritance could be considerably smaller than you anticipated.

Consider Consulting with an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney

If you are preparing to remarry, you are naturally looking forward to a new beginning, but it is also important to consider the financial legacy you have already begun. Marriage is often a trigger for estate planning, but if the marriage is your second, the need for solid estate planning is paramount. The experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have a wealth of impressive experience successfully guiding estate planning for second marriages, and we are here for you, too. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

Next Steps after You Execute Your Estate Plan

Next Steps after You Execute Your Estate Plan

Next Steps after You Execute Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan is an important component of your life planning journey, and if you have taken the time and put in the effort to accomplish this critical task, you should be commended on a significant accomplishment. Now that you have come this far, there are some important next steps that you can take to help you protect all the hard work you have put in and to help ensure that your intentions are both preserved and carried out when the time to implement them comes. If you have questions or concerns about your next steps after you execute your estate plan, the experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC (512-505-2753) are here to help.

Your Estate Plan Overview

Many people are confused by the very concept of an estate plan and believe that it applies only to those with palatial estates—like the Hiltons. Your estate plan is actually a template in which you address how your financial legacy –regardless of its size –will pass on to your loved ones when the time comes. Your estate plan represents a powerful tool, providing you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done the soul searching and taken the appropriate steps to continue protecting and supporting your family in the future.

Important Takeaways

According to the Office of Financial Readiness, when it comes to your estate plan:

  • Your estate plan is about much more than just putting together a Last Will and Testament (will). Instead, your estate plan addresses your overall assets, which make up your estate, and your wishes regarding these assets. This is in addition to ensuring that the plans therein will be effectively and efficiently executed when the need arises.
  • Your estate plan is not a static event. As your life, your assets and your goals evolve, so will your estate plan. Keeping a running account of all changes and updates –and allowing the administrator of your estate access to this evolution –helps make sure that your estate plan keeps up with your life and your wishes.
  • Streamlining is key. For example, you can help ensure that certain kinds of accounts and assets, such as retirement plans and bank accounts, bypass considerable red tape, legal complications, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax implications by completing a transfer on death designations and by designating beneficiaries.

Ultimately, your estate plan will be unique to you. By addressing every critical element, in turn, you will build a plan that upholds your wishes –in support of your family’s financial future. There is naturally a strong emotional component to estate planning that cannot and should not be ignored. The dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have both the compassion and the keen legal insight to help ensure that your plans are financially solid and that they authentically reflect your personal wishes.

Next Steps

You have put in the time and effort to establish an estate plan that provides you with the peace of mind you are looking for, and that should be celebrated. Now, however, is the time to think about the important next steps after you execute your estate plan. This follow-up is intended to make sure that all your hard work and planning do not get lost in the shuffle and that your intentions will ultimately be upheld.

Store Your Documents Safely

You have your estate plan in good shape, and now, it is time to think about storing these documents safely and with careful intention. Keeping all the following in mind is well-advised:

  • Keep your documents well organized and easy for the administrator of your estate to process.
  • Keep your documents in a locked, fire-safe box that protects them from destruction.
  • Consider using a safety deposit box at your bank for additional security.
  • Make sure that the administrator of your estate knows how and where to access these important documents.

Designate Your Beneficiaries and Fund Your Trust

Whether you create a revocable living trust(funded in your lifetime)or a testamentary trust (a trust in your will funded after your death), the first thing to do is to designate the trustee of your trust as a beneficiary of any asset that will be used to fund the trust. Speak to your financial planner or contact your estate planning attorney to figure out how best to fund your trust.

Generate a List of Key Contacts

Depending upon how complex and expansive your estate plan is, you may need more than one contact person (to carry out various aspects of the plan). Make sure that each of your key contacts receives a digital copy of the estate planning documents that are relevant to him or her; implement a reliable update system (for any edits you make along the way), and make sure that the primary administrator of your estate knows where you keep the original copies and how he or she can access them.

Coordinate Your Efforts

Your estate plan is unlikely to be a single document or effort. An important post-planning step that is easy to lose sight of but that tends to be immensely beneficial is coordinating all the components of your estate plan, including those accounts with beneficiaries, into a consolidated whole. Addressing each separate piece as part of an organic whole helps to ensure that you find balance within your planning efforts and that these efforts are not tripped up by loose ends.

Attend to the Digital Details

Gone are the days that everyone’s estate plan was memorialized on paper and locked in a safe. Estate plans are much more likely to have a digital component now (including contact and password information for retirement accounts, financial holdings, and more), and it is important to address this aspect of your estate plan from the outset. Compiling critical identification and password information, keeping it secure, and ensuring that the people who need to access it are able to access it when they need to is key.

Revisit Your Estate Plan with the Professional Guidance of an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is important to you, and you are committed to taking the next steps after you execute your estate plan. While this process can feel daunting, you are not alone in your efforts. The knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC have the impressive experience, legal focus, and drive to help you. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

Who May I Nominate as Guardian for My Child?

Who May I Nominate as Guardian for My Child?

Who May I Nominate as Guardian for My Child?

An experienced estate planning attorney has the legal insight, compassion, and commitment to help you nominate as guardian the person who is right for you and your child –thus providing you with the peace of mind every parent seeks.

When you choose someone to nominate as a guardian for your child in the state of Texas, you assign someone who will assume the role and responsibilities of a parent for your child if you are no longer able to do so. When you nominate someone you trust implicitly to take over in your role as a parent, you make a critical decision that should provide you with peace of mind. You want to know that your child will be well-loved and well cared for in the unlikely event that you and the other parent will not be there for them. [Note: Texas allows for the nomination of a guardian of the person (day-to-day care) and the estate (finances and property) of your child; this can be one role or two separate roles. This blog post will focus on the guardianship of the person.]

Nominating a guardian for your child is an important legal task with significant legal ramifications. In Texas, the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help ensure that you make and appropriately execute the decisions that are right for you and your child. To learn more, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 512-505-2753 today.

The Role of Guardian

The person you nominate as guardian for your child will do all the things a loving parent does, including providing him or her with life necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. In addition, your child’s guardian will be called upon to make the big-picture decisions for your child that parents are responsible for making, including:

  • Where your child will live;
  • Where your child will attend school;
  • The type of religious upbringing your child will have;
  • The extracurricular activities your child will participate in; and
  • The medical care your child will receive.

Time is Not on Your Side

No one expects to be gone suddenly, and while it is unlikely that your child will be left parentless, the fact of the matter is that it can happen. Taking the time to nominate a guardian can provide you with considerable peace of mind. If the worst does happen –and you and your child’s other parent cannot continue parenting him or her for any reason –you cannot go back and take care of business after the fact. This is precisely why estate planning law is so important and why it should not be avoided (although many people are inclined to do so).

How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help

Because no one schedules their unexpected demise, having a plan regarding your child’s guardianship is critical, and an experienced Texas estate planning attorney at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you make these important decisions. In fact, our experienced estate planning attorneys help in all of the following ways:

  • By helping you to make an informed decision that takes your child’s best interests into careful consideration
  • By helping to ensure that the person you nominate to be your child’s guardian is both willing and able to take on the responsibility –and is likely to be accepted by the court as your child’s guardian
  • By reviewing your guardianship choices as time passes to help ensure they continue to support your intentions (life events such as divorce can cause you to reevaluate your choices)
  • By specifically including any wishes that are important to you regarding your child’s upbringing, such as his or her education or religious affiliation

It is essential to point out that changing the person you have appointed as your child’s guardian need not be an arduous task –and the person you remove need not know about the change.

Choose Your Nominee Well

It is vital to choose the person whom you nominate to be your child’s guardian well. The idea is to appoint someone you trust to carry out your wishes and love your child the same way he or she would love his or her child. Toward this end, it is a good idea to ask yourself all of the following questions:

  • Does the person whom you are nominating share the beliefs that are important to you?
  • Will the person whom you are nominating be able to provide your child with the life you want for him or her, including:
    • continuing to enjoy his or her favorite extracurricular activities;
    • continuing to attend the school he or she knows and loves; and/or
    • doing anything else that is important to you?
  • Does the person you are nominating have children of their own, and are the children close to your child?

Ultimately, you, your child (if he or she is old enough and mature enough to weigh in), and the person you are nominating must be comfortable with your decision. When you land on the right person, it should provide you with the peace of mind you are looking for, which helps to ensure that you are on the right track.

Who May You Nominate as Guardian for Your Child?

According to the state of Texas, you can nominate any adult whom you believe is fit to be your child’s guardian and who is not already a legal guardian of your child. You may be divorced from your child’s other parent –or were never married to them. The other parent will likely become your child’s sole guardian in the unlikely event that you die or become incapacitated as a parent (unless there is a very compelling reason for the court to deny parental rights).

When you die or are incapacitated, your family members could conceivably contest the suitability of the guardian you nominate, so it is vital to choose wisely. Memorializing your reasons for selecting the person you have can go a long way toward helping to ensure that the court will ultimately sign off on your nomination.

Now Is a Good Time to Discuss Nominating Your Child’s Guardian with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Now is the right time to determine whom you would like to nominate as guardian of your child, and the accomplished estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are ready to help. Do not put off this momentous decision! Please contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.

 

When Can a Family Member Serve as a Surrogate Decision-Maker?

When Can a Family Member Serve as a Surrogate Decision-Maker?

When Can a Family Member Serve as a Surrogate Decision-Maker?

If you do not have a medical power of attorney in place and are unable to make decisions about your medical care (due to incapacitation or any other significant matter), someone else will need to make these decisions on your behalf, and this person is called your surrogate decision-maker (SDM). The question of when can a family member serve as a surrogate decision-maker is an important one that the experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC can help you address. Having a durable medical power of attorney in place is always a more robust legal choice, and because you are well-advised to explore all your legal options as they apply to your medical care, we invite you to give us a call at 512-505-2753 today.

The Issues Addressed Under the Law

When it comes to a surrogate decision-maker stepping in to make medical decisions in the event someone is unable to make such decisions on his or her behalf, there are four key concerns that the law addresses:

  • The priority (or order) or those potential surrogates who are legally able to act for the person in need (if there is no advance directive in place)
  • The limitations regarding the types of decisions that the SDM has the power to make
  • The decision-making standards
  • The process that is in place for resolving any disputes between surrogates who may have equal priority

In other words, there are a lot of legal considerations when it comes to deciding surrogate decision-makers.

Medical Decision-Making Capacity

While one’s competence must be determined by a court of law, medical decision-making capacity (DMC) is determined by physicians. If it is determined that a patient lacks DMC, a surrogate must be identified. While having a durable medical power of attorney is ideal, not everyone does. If this is the case, Texas’s state laws dictate the answer to the question of when can a family member serve as a surrogate decision-maker.

The State of Texas Weighs In

The State of Texas sets the ground rules for surrogate decision-makers.

The Interdisciplinary Medical Team

The medical interdisciplinary team (IDT) involved in taking care of the individual in question identifies those situations in which a surrogate decision-maker is needed. Upon making this decision, the IDT must designate a family member who checks all of the following boxes as the SDM:

  • Is actively involved in the individual’s life
  • Has decision-making capacity
  • Is willing to take on the role of SDMThose individuals who meet these requirements can be considered for the position of surrogate decision-maker.

Actively Involved Family Members

Actively involved family members (who fulfill all the requirements) will be contacted and considered for the role of SDM in the following descending order:

  • Spouse
  • Adult child
  • Parent or stepparent
  • Sibling
  • Another adult relative, such as a grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, or niece or nephew

Representing Your Wishes

For your SDM to make decisions based on your preferences, he or she will need to know and understand your preferences, beliefs, and values. Typically, this is true of the people you are closest to, which is what guides the state’s decisions on the matter of SDMs. Ultimately, you can only have one SDM at a time, and if more than one person qualifies (in terms of the priorities listed), the person who does not take the role must sign a waiver and consent form accepting the other person’s position. If there is a dispute on the matter, only a court of law can resolve it.

Your SDM’s Authorization

The person who takes on the role of your SDM is granted authority regarding all of the following:

  • Decisions regarding your major medical treatment and care
  • Decisions regarding your major dental treatment
  • Decisions regarding anything that the interdisciplinary team determines to put your rights and/or safety at risk but that is not part of the usual decision-making realm of SDMs
  • The release of any records and/or other relevant information regarding your condition and care that is necessary to obtain consent for ongoing treatment

Only a surrogate consent committee (SCC), however, is authorized to determine the following:

  • The administration of any medications that are psychoactive
  • The use of behavior procedures that are highly restrictive

The level of responsibility bestowed upon your SDM is considerable.

Surrogate Decision-Making: The Standards

When it comes to making important medical decisions on your behalf, the standard involved in the decision-making process involves carefully considering whether the individual in question –if competent to do so –would consent to the proposed health care. Toward this end, all relevant factors should be considered, including:

  • Your prior statements regarding your medical care and treatment
  • The express wishes you communicate (even if shared after being declared incompetent)
  • Your religious or moral views in relation to medical treatment and/or the dying process
  • Your prognosis if you receive no treatment
  • Your prognosis in relation to one treatment over another
  • The risk involved with the treatment proposed
  • How intrusive or severe a proposed treatment is
  • Your capacity to cooperate and assist with therapy post-treatment
  • The wishes of your family and friends (if you would have been influenced by them)
  • The Best-Interests Standard

If your surrogate decision-maker is unable to make a determination in good faith regarding whether or not you would consent to the proposed treatment if you were able to do so, the best-interests standard applies. This amounts to only providing consent when the treatment in question is determined to be in your best interests.

An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Can Help with Your Surrogate Decision-Maker Concerns

If you are asking yourself when a family member serves as a surrogate decision-maker, the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas can not only help answer this question directly but can also help you make well-informed decisions regarding your advance directives (which are a far better option). To learn more about how we can help, please do not wait to contact or call Ibekwe Law at 512-505-2753 today.

Selecting the Right Attorney-in-Fact for Your Medical Power of Attorney

Selecting the Right Attorney-in-Fact for Your Medical Power of Attorney

Selecting the Right Attorney-in-Fact for Your Medical Power of Attorney

Having a medical power of attorney in Texas is an important matter that should be given the careful consideration it deserves. Your medical power of attorney (medical POA) is a legal document that you –as the principal and as a competent adult –sign in order to designate someone whom you trust to make decisions about your health care in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. The person to whom you assign this important task is known as the agent –or the attorney-in-fact –of your medical power of attorney. Because choosing the right attorney-in-fact for your medical POA is a serious concern, the experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are well prepared to help you create a medical power of attorney that provides you with the peace of mind you are looking for. To learn more, please contact us today.

Attorney-in-Fact Defined

An attorney in fact is not necessarily an attorney at all (although he or she certainly can be). Instead, an attorney-in-fact is someone who is authorized to conduct the principal of the POA’s business, and when the written power of attorney is a medical power of attorney, this means that the attorney-in-fact will be making medical decisions on behalf of the principal.

Choosing Your Attorney-in-Fact

Choosing someone whom you trust implicitly is obviously critical when it comes to selecting the attorney-in-fact for your medical power of attorney. The basic attributes you are looking for include:

  • Someone whom you know to be trustworthy
  • Someone with whom you are comfortable working
  • Someone who thoroughly understands your wishes regarding medical care and is willing to carry them out

Additionally, while your attorney-in-fact must be at least 18 years old, you will want to choose someone who has the maturity to make difficult decisions in difficult situations, which generally calls for someone who has reached a greater age. Further, choosing someone who is close in proximity can help eliminate the additional complexities that come with distance. Another important factor is whether or not your attorney-in-fact has the time necessary to devote to making important medical decisions on your behalf in the event you need him or her to do so. Ultimately, you do not want the responsibilities inherent to being your attorney-in-fact for your medical POA to exceed the capacities of the person whom you choose. In other words, there are many important considerations regarding selecting the right attorney-in-fact for your medical power of attorney in Texas.

How Your Medical POA Works

Your medical power-of-attorney is only concerned with decisions that relate to your health care, and it should be written in exact accordance with your wishes and specifications. Your POA can address wide-ranging healthcare concerns, including:

  • Managing your personal care
  • Hiring a personal care assistant for you
  • Deciding which medical treatments you will receive
  • Making decisions regarding your overall health care

Your medical POA will be constrained by the parameters you include in the document and by all applicable legal restrictions. Those areas of medical care that may be subject to specific conditions can include:

  • The withdrawal of life-support systems
  • The withdrawal of fluids and nutrition
  • Medical treatment that is solely palliative (designed to provide physical comfort only)

Your Medical Power of Attorney

Your medical power of attorney, once carefully considered, written, and executed (signed) will need to be notarized. You should then provide your attorney-in-fact with the original (keeping a copy in a safe place). It is also important to distribute copies to all of the following that apply:

  • Your primary care doctor
  • Any specialists who regularly treat you
  • The medical facility where you receive medical care and treatment
  • Close family members whom you want to know your wishes
  • Your attorney
  • The administrator at the care facility where you live, such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility

Your medical power of attorney can be revoked by you at any time, and you can also designate a different attorney-in-fact at any time.

By Way of Example

Considering a common example is one of the best ways to better understand what it means to have a medical power of attorney and just how important selecting the right attorney-in-fact for you is.

Toward this end, let us consider the hypothetical example of Jen, whose father, John, is undergoing chemotherapy. While having a medical power of attorney is a good idea for everyone, it is especially important for anyone who is experiencing a serious illness. Jen thinks it is time to address the matter of a medical POA with her father, and the first order of business in this situation is to establish that John is physically and mentally well enough to understand the significance of creating a medical POA –and of selecting an attorney-in-fact –before creating the document.

John’s medical POA will outline all of John’s wishes regarding medical treatment moving forward (in the event that he is no longer able to do so on his own behalf). If Jen lives with her family across the country, she may not be a good choice for John’s attorney-in-fact, and John will need to carefully consider who the best choice is. Jen, however, can help John with the process of setting up his medical power of attorney, and the best way to ensure that it is legal and binding –and that it adequately addresses John’s wishes –is by working closely with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney, such as the attorneys at Ibekwe Law.

Reach Out To An Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you have concerns regarding medical power of attorney in Texas –and about selecting the right attorney-in-fact for you –the dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas are here to help. The implications of choosing an attorney-in-fact are considerable, and a better understanding of exactly what is at stake can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have given this important matter the careful consideration it deserves. We are on your side, so please do not wait to contact or call Ibekwe Law, PLLC at 512-505-2753 for more information about how we can help you today.