The Rice Law Firm, PLLC                                    
Call:     832.510.9760
Email:  ricelawthewoodlands@gmail.com

Wills & Estate Planning

DISCLAIMER: The following questions were answered by an experienced Wills and Estate Planning lawyer in The Woodlands, Texas, however, there are provided for informational purposes only; therefore, they must not be construed as legal advice.  Contact an attorney in your area to discuss the facts of your case. There is no attorney-client relationship created via this website.


What type of Wills and Estate Planning does this law firm handle? 

The Woodlands estate planning lawyer drafts Simple Wills, Wills with Minor’s Trusts, Wills with Supplemental Needs Trust, Financial and Medical Power of Attorneys, etc. for single, divorced or widowed individuals, for first time married couples, or married couple with blended families (with children from prior marriages) located in the Woodlands, Conroe, Spring, North Houston, Montgomery, Oak Ridge North, Shenandoah, Magnolia, Tomball, Egypt, Splendora, Willis, or anywhere in Montgomery or North Harris County.  Prior to scheduling a consultation with the Woodlands estate planning lawyer, visit our Initial Consultation page.

                                                                                WILLS

What is a Will? 

A Will is a document indicating how you would like your property to be distributed after your death and who you would like to handle your estate distribution.

Can I write my own Will or do I have to hire an estate planning lawyer to draft one for me?

You don’t have to hire an attorney, you can write your own will.

Why do people hire estate planning lawyers to draft Wills?

 If you prepare your own Will, it may or may not be found valid by the court. Even if it is found valid, the estate administration may end up being a long and expensive process because of the way the self-prepared will was written. A Will drafted by an Estate Planning lawyer will include certain language to make probate easier and the administration of the estate more efficient and cost effective (it may save your estate thousands of dollars in the process).

I want to prepare my own Will. Do I have to leave my property to my children or my spouse?

No, you do not have to. The whole idea behind having a Will is that you can leave your property to whoever you want. However, if you are thinking of disinheriting certain family members, it may be a good idea to consult with an Estate Planning lawyer who can help you include certain language in the will to hopefully avoid a will contest by the disinherited family members.

What happens to my property if I die without a will?

The State of Texas has specific laws according to which your property will be distributed to your family members. The process however is complex and more expensive because the court would first have to find out who your heirs are.

I am physically ill but I do have the mental capacity to sign my Will. How do I avoid any potential contests?

If you hire an experienced estate planning attorney, he/she will ask you questions in the presence of the witnesses, in order to ensure that you understand what you are doing, you know what your assets are, you know who your family members are and you know what you are leaving to them.  If there is a contest in the future, the witnesses will testify to you having the capacity to execute the Will.

My husband and I would like to name a guardian for our minor children in our Will. Can we do so?

Having one single Will for both of you is not recommended. Instead ask the lawyer to draft two Wills and request a discount since the Wills would be quite similar. Yes, you can designate a guardian for your minor children in your Will, or you can draft a separate document called Declaration of Appointment of Guardian for my Children in the Event of My Death/Incapacity.

Is there a big difference in the distribution of the property if I die without a will versus if I die with a will? 

Texas Young Lawyers Association has prepared the following publication for the public (updated through 2010), in which they explain generally what happens to the property of a Texas resident who dies without a will versus if he/she dies with a will, called: To Will or not to Will.

                                                                
OTHER ESTATE PLANNING :

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document by which you appoint an agent (called "an attorney-in-fact") who will manage your financial affairs. However, only a "Durable" Power of Attorney will survive incapacity (i.e. will continue to be effective after you become incapacitated).

I heard that I have to record my Financial Power of Attorney for it to be valid, is that true?

 Not unless you will be using that Power of Attorney in real property transactions. For example, if you have property in the Woodlands, and the Power of Attorney will be used to sell your house, then the Power of Attorney should be recorded in the Property Records of Montgomery County, because that is the county where the property is located.

My son was my financial Power of Attorney but he moved to another state.  My daughter just moved to the Woodlands where I live. How do I change my Power of Attorney to make my daughter my agent instead?

 Estate planning attorneys in the Woodlands can assist you by revoking your current Power of Attorney and providing notice of revocation to all of the institutions that have a copy of it.  If the current Power of Attorney is recorded with the County Clerk of Montgomery County, the revocation should be recorded as well.  Then, your estate planning lawyer will draft a new Power of Attorney by which you can designate your daughter as your agent, of course I am assuming that you have the legal capacity at this time to execute the document.

What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical POA is a document by which you appoint an agent who will make medical and health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

What is a Directive to Physicians and Family and Surrogates
?

 This document is commonly known as a Living Will. A Directive indicates your decision to withhold or withdraw life support if you are suffering from a terminal illness or an irreversible condition.

What is a Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Incapacity?

A person who has the mental capacity to execute legal documents may execute this document designating someone they like and trust to serve as guardian of the person and/or estate if/when that person becomes incapacitated in the future.  This document may also be used for the purpose of disqualifying someone from serving as guardian of declarant’s person and/or estate.

What is a Designation of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains?

A person uses this document to designate an agent to handle funeral arrangements for that person.  The declarant may also disclose in this document whether he/she wants to be cremated or where and how he/she wants to be buried.

What is a HIPPA Release?

A HIPPA Release Document authorizes health-care professionals to disclose and release declarant’s health information and medical records to the agent designated by the declarant.