EDUCATION

Estate Planning Document Descriptions

The Grenier Law Firm believes that education is an important part of top-quality legal services.  The excerpts below and full document descriptions posted on this site are for educational purposes only.  We want to keep educational materials available here for you. However, you must understand that providing these document descriptions should not be construed as legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship between you as the reader and our authors.  Because these descriptions are intended as informational, you should always seek out the appropriate legal advice before acting or not acting based on what you read here.

Last Will and Testament
Durable Power of Attorney
Medical Power of Attorney
Advanced Medical Directive (Living Will)
HIPAA Release
Declaration of Guardian
Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children
Detailed Instructions for Signing
Last Will and Testament
01. What it is

Your Last Will and Testament distributes your assets as you desire.

MANAGEMENT.

Your Last Will and Testament tells the court who should be responsible for making sure that your plan is executed like you want.  This person is called the “Executor.”  The Executor identifies all of the assets and debts of the estate. Once everything is identified, the debts must be paid and the assets must be distributed.

If you have minor children, your Last Will and Testament tells the court who should be appointed as the children’s guardian. When you appoint a guardian in the Will, you and your family will save money and time spent in court.

The contingent trust provision allows you to create a trust upon your death to allow another person to manage your assets that would otherwise immediately be available to a beneficiary.

We always recommend additional consultations with an attorney for families with young children.  These additional consultations allow the attorney to determine if additional trust provisions in your Last Will and Testament would be the best solution for you and your family. If you have young children, please consider coming to see us or seeing another estate planning attorney to make sure you are making the right choice.  Our current offerings do NOT provide for tax considerations or trust provisions in the Last Will and Testament, unless otherwise stated.

02. Why it is important

Your Last Will and Testament protects your assets and beneficiaries.

SECURITY.

Your Last Will and Testament provides you some necessary options to protect your life long investments, goals, and achievements.

The Executor, and Trustee in certain situations, provide a level of protection by managing the assets you have accumulated over your life. You should trust this person to understand your goals and desires and be able to achieve those goals and desires for you.

When you have minor children, your Last Will and Testament should name the guardians you wish to take care of your children if you are unable.  Our packages allow for you to name a guardian for your minor children.

When a beneficiary is not in a position to accept the assets you have set aside for them, your Last Will and Testament can protect both the assets and the beneficiary from waste.  The contingent trust provision in our packages is a small step in the overall Estate Planning process to add security to your Last Will and Testament.  You should also understand that the contingent trust provision is not the best solution for all circumstances, but we want to make sure it is available to those that would add a level of security.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

Our online Last Will and Testament has a specific purpose in mind.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each Last Will and Testament is tailored to each client. If the digital design of this document does not meet your needs, please contact us or another estate planning attorney.

A Married Couple. Here, if you do not have children, your assets are distributed to your spouse, and then to your heirs if your spouse is not living. If you have children, your assets are distributed to your spouse, and then to your children if your spouse is not living. If none of the beneficiaries are alive, your estate will pass to your heirs. If you have children, you should name a guardian for them and select the contingent trust package during the process. There are no tax considerations in our digital Will’s. You will be able to name an Executor and up to two (2) alternate Executors.

An Individual. Here, if you do not have children, your assets are distributed equally to a list of beneficiaries that you provide us. If none of the beneficiaries are alive, your estate will pass to your heirs. If you have children, you should name a guardian for them and select the contingent trust package during the process. There are no tax considerations in our digital Will’s. You will be able to name an Executor and up to two (2) alternate Executors.

Durable Power of Attorney
01. What It Is

Your Durable Power of Attorney allows a person to make decisions on your behalf.

MANAGEMENT.

This document allows you choose a person, or people, to make financial decisions for you when you are unable or unavailable to make decisions.  The person (or persons) you name is called an “Agent.” Your Agent has a great deal of power to act in your stead.  Essentially, they stand in your shoes and act as if you were taking the action.

For example, if you were involved in a terrible accident and were unable to pay your normal recurring bills, your Agent could do that on your behalf with your funds.  Depending on the powers and authority you grant your Agent, your agent could buy or sell real estate, acquire other assets, open or close bank accounts, make donations, and many other actions.  The Durable Power of Attorney is a very powerful document.  You should take great care in naming an Agent.

If you want more than one person to have this ability, you can choose an alternate person or people in case the first person is unable to care for you.

You also have the ability to decide when your Agent receives this authority.  You can empower your Agent immediately upon signing the document, or you can delay the empowerment of your Agent until you are declared incapacitated by one or more doctors.  If your Agent has the power and authority to act immediately upon the signing of the document, He or she can take actions whether you are capable or not.  If you choose to delay empowering your Agent until incapacity, your Agent cannot act in your stead until one or more doctors decide you are incapable to act.

02. Why It is important

Your Durable Power of Attorney allows another to protect your interests.

SECURITY.

The durable part of the document allows your Agent to continue to act on your behalf when you are disabled or incapacitated.  A “general” power of attorney that is not effective if you are disabled or incapacitated will not. For example, if you are in a car accident and left in a coma, you likely will need someone to care for your financial affairs until you are once again able to care for them yourself.  Your Agent will be able handle your financial affairs for you if your power of attorney is “Durable” or effective if you are disabled or incapacitated.

** IMPORTANT **
You must understand that this document gives your Agent the power to make decisions as if you had made them. You might say that your Agent is a person you would trust with your life.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

Our online Durable Power of Attorney has a specific purpose in mind.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each Durable Power of Attorney is tailored to each client. Each of our Durable Power of Attorney documents allows you to decide when the Agent will be empowered.  You initial the option that you prefer in the document. If the digital design of this document does not meet your needs, please contact us or another estate planning attorney.

A Married Couple. Here, your initial Agent will be your spouse. You will then be able to name an alternate Agent for both or each of you.

An Individual. Here, you will be able to name an initial Agent and an alternate Agent for your Durable Power of Attorney.

Medical Power of Attorney
01. What It Is

Your Medical Power of Attorney allows an Agent to make medical decisions on your behalf.

MANAGEMENT.

You choose the person, or people, to make medical decision for you when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.  The person you choose is called your “Agent.” This document is different from the Durable Power of Attorney because it only applies to medical decisions.  For example, you choose who can tell the doctor that you do or do not want a certain type of treatment.

It is best to choose more than one person for this document because the doctor will go down the list in order to find someone that can make decisions for you.

02. Why It’s Important

Your Medical Power of Attorney allows someone to direct the medical staff when you are unable.

SECURITY.

When you are unable to make medical decision for yourself, medical staff must default to what they think is in your best interests.  However, your decisions might be different from what the medical staff would choose. Your Medical Power of Attorney makes sure that the medical staff is informed through your Agent of any decisions you would make. It is also important to know that the Agent is only empowered to make decisions for you when you are unable to make the decision yourself.  Medical providers will always look to you first for a decision.  If you become unable to make decisions on your own and later regain that ability, the medical providers will again look to you first, not your Agent.

Communication is key — both with your agent and the medical staff caring for you.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

Our online Medical Power of Attorney has a specific purpose in mind.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each Medical Power of Attorney is tailored to each client. If the digital design of this document does not meet your needs, please contact us or another estate planning attorney.

We actually combine our Medical Power of Attorney with the Advanced Medical Directive (Living Will) for all of our Texas packages.  We include who will make the medical decisions for you and your chose as to whether you want certain life support care in the event you are terminally ill or have an irreversible condition.  We find the combination adds efficiency to the medical process when the situation is tough already.

A Married Couple. Here, your initial Agent will be your spouse. You will then be able to name an alternate Agent for both or each of you. You will also be able to initial by your choices concerning life support (Texas only).

An Individual. Here, you will be able to name an initial Agent and an alternate Agent for your Medical Power of Attorney. You will also be able to initial by your choices concerning life support (Texas only).

Advanced Medical Directive
01. What It Is

Your Advanced Medical Directive informs medical staff of your wishes.

MANAGEMENT.

Your Advanced Medical Directive, also known as a Living Will, allows you to tell the doctor if you want invasive life support.  However, you should understand that either decision still allows for regular treatment and pain management to continue.

None of us want to have anyone we love encounter the need for life support.  The need to choose whether a loved one should be “hooked up” to life support would be an extremely difficult situation.  The Advanced Medical Directive takes the burden off family members by dictating what you want concerning invasive life support.  For example, if you choose not to have invasive life support, you would not be given invasive nutrition and hydration.

02. Why It’s Important

Your Advanced Medical Directive protects you from unwanted medical treatments.

SECURITY.

A story best explains why the Advanced Medical Directive is important. (The story is representative of an actual event; however, the facts and names have been changed for anonymity.)

After a medical emergency, Skippy was strapped to a medical bed.  Every possible tube and wire was attached to her.  Machines were breathing for her, feeding her, and making her appear alive.  However, her family all knew that Skippy had no chance of recovery and was gone.  Skippy did not have a Advanced Medical Directive.  So, for nearly a month, her body was in the hospital bed and the medical bills began to grow.  The family continued to suffer because the medical staff could not turn off the machines until all possible treatments were exhausted.  Although the family pleaded with the hospital, Skippy’s body continued to be hooked up to the machines. At the end of it all, the family was distressed and traumatized.  Unable to pay the medical bills, each of them would ask how this situation could have been prevented.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

Our online Advanced Medical Directive has a specific purpose in mind.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each Advanced Medical Directive is tailored to each client.  

Texas Packages:

All of our Advanced Medical Directives are combined with the Medical Power of Attorney. If the digital design of this document does not meet your needs, please contact us or another estate planning attorney.

All of our Advanced Medical Directives allow for the person to initial the preferred treatment options given two situations.  The short explanation is that options A & C do not allow for invasive life support, while options B & D do.

The two situations provided for in our Advanced Medical Directive are: (1) Terminal Conditions and (2) Irreversible Conditions. Both situations are based on the physician’s judgment, meaning that the physician determines that your condition meets one of the two situations.

Louisiana Packages:

All of our Living Will Declarations allow for the person to initial one of the following:

1. That all life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn so that food and water will not be administered invasively.

OR

2. That life-sustaining procedures, except nutrition and hydration, be withheld or withdrawn so that food and water can be administered invasively.

Estate Planning Packages.

HIPAA Release
01. What It Is

Your HIPAA Release keeps loved ones informed.

MANAGEMENT.

A HIPAA Release informs the medical staff of the people you wish to be able to know your medical information.  Loved ones who call into the hospital to check on you will likely be told nothing without a HIPAA Release.  Federal law prohibits the releases of medical information about you unless you have authorized them, in writing, to disclose information to specific people.

The people that you name on this document cannot make any medical decisions for you; they can only receive information about your medical condition.  This document will allow the people who care about you to communicate with the medical staff as to your condition and care.

02. Why It’s Important

Your HIPAA Release only gives access to those you want.

SECURITY.

The HIPAA Release only gives permission to the medical staff to talk to those you have named.

For example, I would want my sisters to be able to check on me if I were in the hospital.  I would make sure to name them in my HIPAA Release so that the medical staff could inform them of my situation.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

 Our online HIPAA Release has a specific purpose in mind.  All packages are drafted based on the list of people you provide us.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each HIPAA Release is tailored to each client. If the digital design of this document does not meet your needs, please contact us or another estate planning attorney.

A. Married Couple. Here, your spouse as well as the people you name will be listed on your HIPAA Release.

An Individual. Here, only the people you name will be listed on your HIPAA Release.

Declaration of Guardian
01. What It Is

Your Declaration of Guardian names who will care for you.

MANAGEMENT.

A Declaration of Guardian allows you to choose who you would want to care for you and your financial affairs if you ever need a guardian over you.  This document typically applies only in the worst case scenario.  For example, the effects of dementia could cause an adult to be unable to manage his or her own life and would need a guardian.  Guardianship for adults is very similar to a guardianship of a parent over a child.

You choose the person to care for your health, safety, and welfare.  This is called Guardian of the Person.  This person must make sure that you are receiving the necessary medical care, live in a safe environment, are getting the proper nutrition, and getting the proper personal care.

Additionally, you choose the person to care for your finances.  This person must make sure that your financial obligations are met.  For example managing your money and paying your bills. The guardian of your estate can be the same person who is the guardian of your person.  You can also name different people for each role, one for your guardian of your person and another for your guardian of your estate.

Your guardian of your person and your estate have much broader authority than the Agents you name under a Medical Power of Attorney or a Durable Power of Attorney.

02. Why It’s Important

Your Declaration of Guardian protects you when you cannot.

SECURITY.

When you are unable to care for yourself or your finances, you should have someone that can help.  This document makes sure that the court knows who you would want to care for you in the case you cannot.

Often times, tragedy strikes, and we are not prepared.  We are here to think ahead with you to ensure that you and your family are cared for in the way that you want. A guardianship will allow someone you trust and love to provide security for your daily life.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

Our online Declaration of Guardian has a specific purpose in mind.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each Declaration of Guardian is tailored to each client. If you would like to name different people for the Guardian of Person and Guardian of Estate, you should contact us or another estate planning attorney to get appropriate consultation.

A Married Couple. Here, your spouse is automatically named as your Guardian of Person and Estate.

An Individual. Here, you will name one person to be both the Guardian of your Person and Estate. You will have the option to name an alternate guardian in the case that the first named person is unable or unwilling.

Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children
01. What It Is

Your Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children the person(s) you want to care for your children.

MANAGEMENT.

Your Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children will name a guardian, either an individual or a married couple, to care for your children.  It is important to know that the default guardians for a child are the parents.  However, you can contest this default appointment with the court.

There are circumstances where you are still alive but unable to care for your child.  This document allows you to name who you would like the court to consider as the guardian for your children.  The court will always consider what would be in the best interest of the child.

02. Why It’s Important

Your Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children protects your children.

SECURITY.

Your Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children adds a level of security to your wishes when you have already named an individual or a married couple to care for your child when you are unable.  Your wishes, as a parent, bears great weight in determining what would be in the best interest of your child or children.

Additionally, your Will might not go through the Probate process.  This document will still allow the court to appoint a guardian for your child upon your death.

03. Our Digital Design

Designed with Digital relationships in mind.

DIGITAL DOCUMENTS.

Our online Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children has a specific purpose in mind.  While we standardize our solutions as much as possible, each Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children is tailored to each client. If the digital design of this document does not meet your needs, please contact us or another estate planning attorney.

A Married Couple. Here, your spouse, if he or she survives you, will be the default guardian for your child. However, you will be able to name an alternate Guardian individual or a married couple if you choose.

An Individual. Here, you will be able to name an individual or a married couple as the guardian for your children. Additionally, you will be able to name an alternate Guardian if you choose.

Detailed Instructions for Signing

We want to provide the best guidance for you when you receive your documents. Having the documents is only part of the entire process — You must have them “Executed.” This means that you need to sign your documents, have some of them witnessed, and some notarized.

The instructions provide a process and checklist to meet the formal requirements set out by Texas law. Failure to execute the documents in the manner required by law could invalidate some or all of the documents.  You will receive instructions for the following documents:

Last Will and Testament
Durable Power of Attorney
Combination Medical Directive and Medical Power of Attorney
HIPAA Release
Declaration of Guardian
Appointment of Guardian for Minor Children (when applicable)

Step 2: Get Started

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