Getting older does have certain benefits. Retirement can give you the freedom to spend time with family and friends, explore the world, take up a new hobby or expand on one you already have. Just enjoy life. It can also come with financial challenges such as unexpected medical expenses and the need to have plans in place for one’s eventual passing.

For most of us, thinking about death is difficult let alone talking about it with our spouse, children and complete strangers. We understand and the legal team at The Hyde Law Firm is sensitive to your needs.

Our philosophy is centered on fostering close client relationships and spending as much time as needed responding to your questions and concerns. In truth, having a valid will in place is one of the kindest actions you can take for your family’s future in the event of your incapacitation or death.

We recommend the following at minimum:

  • Last Will and Testament

  • Medical Power of Attorney

  • Advance Directive

  • HIPAA release

  • Designation of Guardian

  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney

Last Will and Testament

Drafting a valid will should be high on your list to help protect your family’s financial future by distributing your property and resources according to your wishes after your death. Otherwise, state law determines how your property is distributed during Probate. Having a will in place will also allow your family to mourn without having to deal with the ‘business’ side of death at the same time. Clear and concise estate planning that details your wishes prevents your spouse, children and relatives from having to guess what you would want to happen. Different family members may have different opinions creating tense, emotional situations that could split your family just when they need each other the most. You can also provide for a designation of guardian for any minor or disabled children that you might have. If you have a disabled child of any age, you should consider establishing a Special Needs Trust to provide for that child’s care without affecting governmental benefits they are receiving.

Medical Power of Attorney

Medical emergencies have little to no warning. If you suddenly became incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself, having a designated family member or trusted friend (perhaps with medical training) who knows your wishes is essential. A Medical Power of Attorney accomplishes this. You should also make your wishes known in an Advance Medical Directive also known as a Living Will.

Advance Medical Directive/Living Will

If you are diagnosed with a terminal condition or irreversible con-dition without reasonable hope of recovery, a Living Will allows you to specify if you want to receive any and all available treat-ments, or if you would like to be kept comfortable and allowed to die as gently as possible. Taking this agonizing decision out of the hands of your family prevents them from feeling any guilt that they may have made the wrong decision. It’s recommended that you discuss your choices with your family so they understand your wishes and copies of the Living Will given to your health care pro-viders to be placed in your medical file. The Living Will is usually used in conjunction with a Medical Power of Attorney.

HIPAA Authorization

Once you have a Medical Power of Attorney and an Advance Med-ical Directive in place, you want to be sure that doctors are legally able to release your medical information without violating HIPAA. There could be issues even with the two aforementioned docu-ments in place. A HIPPA Authorization allows you to name exactly who you want to receive your medical information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law created to protect the privacy of healthcare information.

Designation of Guardian

If you become unable to care for yourself due to mental and/or physical limitations, you need someone in place who has your best interests in mind. The purpose of a designated guardian is to promote and protect you during this period, and encourage independence within the limits of their authority. Spouses generally have priority to serve, but others with no adverse interest can also serve in this capacity.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

If you become unable to make financial decisions for yourself, you can appoint someone to make any or all financial decisions and transactions for you. This should be someone you trust implicitly to make sound financial decisions for you. You may specify when the document is executed if you want the power granted to be immediate, or if it only becomes effective upon your incapacity. If you choose immediate, please note that your appointed agent cannot override your decisions as long as you are capable of making them.

Medicaid & Asset Preservation

Functioning as a safety net for millions of middle class citizens whose monetary resources wouldn’t cover long-term care, Medicaid can allow you to get the skilled nursing care you may require as you age. Applying for Medicaid can be a daunting task that requires meeting several qualifications. Income and assets are a huge determining factor. We are statewide experts in Medicaid with a location in Granbury near the Dallas/Fort Worth area and a second location in Round Rock near Austin. We can guide you through the process and help you hold onto assets and income and not have them count against your eligibility. Please see our Medicaid section for more in depth information on how our legal team can help.

Probate

Having all recommended documents in place, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can avoid probate. Probate is the process in which a court legally recognizes a person’s death and oversees the payment of debts and distribution of assets. In Texas, if you die with a valid will, if administration is needed, an application to probate the will must be filed in a court of jurisdiction (in this case Hood County). An executor must be appointed by the court and the court must agree that the will is valid. If a valid will is not in place, an application for a determination of heirship and request for administration must be filed instead. The heirs will be determined by the court, and an administrator will be appointed by the court. Planning in advance will greatly reduce the stress, time, and expense your loved ones will have to expend in the probate process.

Contact the Hyde Law Firm today.

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