When you are planning for the future, you will need an attorney committed to addressing your personal and unique needs. At Cohen Villegas Patel, PLLC, we strive to provide clients with professional and high-quality legal guidance coupled with personalized attention and care. Attorney Madhvi Patel, who focuses her practice on estate planning and probate, works hard to ensure you will receive the attentive legal counsel you deserve.
Whether you have questions about wills, powers of attorney, or probate, contact our firm today. Call (214) 643-8844 or reach out to us online.
Some of the most important estate planning tools in Texas are wills and trusts. A will, also called a last will and testament, allows an individual to:
- address who to leave their property to;
- name a personal guardian to care for any minor children;
- designate a trusted person to manage property left to their children; and
- nominate an executor to carry out the terms of the will.
In short, a will establishes how the person’s assets will be handled after their death.
Similarly, a trust establishes who will hold legal title to property for another person (called the beneficiary). The beneficiaries named in a trust will receive the designated property upon the person’s death. Note that an individual must have a will, whether or not they have a living trust. A will provides a safeguard for any property not addressed in the trust. Be aware that if a person does not have a will, any property that isn't transferred by their living trust or other method will go to their closest relatives.
Powers of Attorney
Texas estate planning law also addresses powers of attorney, which grant a named individual the authority to make certain decisions on behalf of the person (the principal). Some examples of powers of attorney include:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finances – names someone to make financial decisions on behalf of the principal, if necessary (e.g., if they are mentally incapacitated).
- Living Will – documents the type of care the principal does or doesn’t want if they become incapacitated (strictly healthcare preferences).
- Medical Power of Attorney – appoints someone to be the principal’s healthcare agent who will make necessary healthcare decisions as the principal wishes.
Note that, in addition to the named agent in a medical power of attorney, the principal may also consider providing copies of their healthcare forms to the following individuals for reference:
- their doctor or other regular healthcare providers;
- the office of any hospital or other care facility in which they are likely to receive treatment;
- the patient representative of their HMO or insurance plan;
- immediate family members and close friends.
International & Multicultural
CVP is comprised of multicultural partners, thus offering a variety of language translation and interpretation: Spanish, Gujarati, Italian, German, French, Nepalese, Hebrew, Russian and Portuguese.
While providing outstanding service and legal representation is our paramount concern, CVP maintains great vigilance in controlling costs by ensuring that matters are dealt with efficiently and cost-effectively.
Decades of Experience
All clients meet with only CVP partners for legal counsel. Our partners come from a variety of jurisdictions and hold degrees and concentrations in various fields of Law. Together we offer decades of experience and vast insight translating directly into exceptional advice and service to our clients.
Another important aspect of Texas estate planning law is probate. Texas probate is fortunately simpler than in most other states. Note that there are certain assets that can actually be transferred without having to go through probate court, such as:
- community property with right of survivorship;
- property held as joint tenancy with right of survivorship;
- payable-on-death bank accounts;
- life insurance proceeds;
- survivor's benefits from an annuity.
For property that does need to go through probate, the executor can pursue the simplified process of independent administration if all the beneficiaries agree. In such a case, the executor will not have to post a bond (an insurance policy protecting the estate against losses caused by the executor's acts) and will not have to ask court permission before taking many steps to settle the estate, such as paying debts, selling estate property, and distributing assets to the people entitled to inherit them. However, an independent executor must still publish notice to potential creditors and file an inventory of assets with the court.
Texas executors can also use a simplified small estate process if the value of the property does not exceed what's needed to pay the family allowance and certain creditors, according to Tex. Estates Code Ann. § 354.001. In this situation, the executor will present an accounting showing where the estate money went, and the court will approve it and close the estate. Similarly, if the remaining assets following funeral and illness expenses don't exceed the amount of the family allowance, the court can issue an order of no administration and assign the estate assets to the surviving spouse and/or minor children.
If you have questions about drafting your will or other estate planning concerns in Dallas, contact our team at Cohen Villegas Patel, PLLC for legal support. Call (214) 643-8844 or reach out to us online.