What if a Tornado hit?
The tornado that ripped through the heavily populated suburbs in Dallas after Christmas in 2015 took an awful toll. Many people died.
What if . . .
Kids . . .
What if only the kids walked away from the tragedy? Where would they go? To whom? What money would be available to support them?
Mom . . .
What if mom was on life support and a decision had to be made?
Usually you hear people say, “Wow, I need to get my will done!”
But that isn’t enough. Think of the questions above, how many of those questions would be solved by a will document that only said who gets your stuff? Stuff demolished by the tornado and spread over the neighborhood. Brutal, but sometimes you have to be an adult and realize that you might not be there to protect those left behind.
Your kids aren’t going to like you much if they are standing in the street, house demolished, no money, no guardians to take them, no documents to even help any guardians, and perhaps even the insurance proceeds tied up in court.
A standard will package consists of the following:
- Will – yes, the standard document that tells everyone who gets what when you are gone.
- Memorandum of Personal Belongings – This is a great addition to a will which you can edit and change that allows you to make specific bequests (give specific things) to specific people without having to go through the effort of re-doing the entire will.
- Medical Power of Attorney – allows friends or family to make medical decisions for you in case you simply can’t due to being disabled.
- Power of Attorney – allows friends or family to make financial decisions for you, perhaps pay bills or whatever is needed while you are not able to.
- Declaration of Guardian Spouse – this specifies who has control of you, your finances or perhaps even your person, in the event that you are no longer competent and need to be placed into someone else’s permanent care.
- Declaration of Guardian Children, Temporary — in the event both parent’s die, this enables someone locally to take control of the kids without question for a few days until the permanent guardians arrive to take over.
- Declaration of Guardian Permanent – these are the people who will have permanent custody and control of the kids in the event both parents die.
- Directive to Physicians – this can truly be a gift to those left behind. If you are placed on life support and a decision has to be made as to whether to terminate (remove support) or continue, this document tells those in such an awful position what your true wishes are. (My family recently had such a situation, brutal)
These are the basic documents.
Here are more . . .
Some other documents that should be strongly considered when setting up an estate plan in the Great State of Texas include:
- Transfer on Death Deed – This is a deed which specifies who gets the house if you die. A new addition to Texas law, seriously new as in only a few months old, this document is tricky, but can save thousands in probate costs by skipping probate court entirely if properly applied.
- Disinheritance letters – If there is a serious reason for an heir to be disinherited, then documents can be created to assist the judge in enforcing such a wish.
- Appointment of Agent to Dispose of Remains – Sometimes applicable to assist in ensuring authority is unquestioned in the preparations when someone dies.
- HIPAA Release – You can never have too many HIPAA release documents. When a friend or family member comes to the hospital and denied access to the person’s status as a result of HIPAA, well, not good.
- Trusts – When one has significant assets, special financial considerations, or perhaps a child with special needs, a simple will package won’t be enough perhaps. At that point, an experienced attorney is invaluable and can save the family fortune, if not the family’s safety.
It’s important to remember that all these documents must work together and be prepared together. Trying to create them off the internet yourself without an experienced attorney can cost you more than you ever dreamed of saving by doing it on the cheap.
BY THE WAY!
Imagine what a lot of those homeowners are going to go through if their documents are lost! Always, always, always, have a soft copy backed up in the cloud. And for those documents, if stored at home, make sure the safe is in a tornado safe place in the house as possible!