Probate & Estate Planning
Wills and Trusts
A Will is a legal instrument, which states how property is to be distributed at death. A valid Will avoids many of the problems that may arise from dying without a Will and allows a person to leave property in the manner he or she desires. A Will can also designate the individual who will manage the estate, allow for independent probate administration, and name a Guardian and Trustee for minor or incapacitated children.
Our goal at Stewart & Gretch is to explain the benefits proper planning provides to individuals and families alike. We draft documents tailored to each client’s unique situation. Stewart & Gretch will take the time to insure you understand the consequence of every decision you make in your planning process. Everyone should have a Will. Our goal is to provide our client’s and their families with the security afforded by proper planning.
Probate or estate administration is the process where the assets of someone who has died are gathered, their debts and obligations are settled, and their property is transferred to their heirs and beneficiaries. Here the probate process is notably simpler because of a process unique to Texas known as independent administration.
The loss of a loved one is an emotional time. The grieving process alone takes a toll. Then loved ones are tasked with resolving and settling the decedent’s financial affairs. Stewart & Gretch assist clients in navigating administration processes and procedures so that a loved one’s estate can be settled in a cost effective and timely manner.
Guardianships are costly and complicated but sometimes necessary. A guardianship is a court-supervised administration for a minor or incapacitated person. A guardian is appointed by a court to care for the person and/or property of the minor or incapacitated person.
There are planning methods which prevent the need for guardianship proceedings as will be discussed below.
If you find yourself in a situation which you believe necessitates the appointment of a guardian, Stewart & Gretch will assist you in determining whether any alternatives to guardianship exist and if necessary will initiate the appropriate proceedings on your behalf.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows someone else, called your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” to handle your personal affairs. You can create a power of attorney to meet many needs and can grant your agent authority that is long term or brief. The individual you select does not have to be a lawyer, they can be your spouse, another relative, or your best friend.
After determining your goals and circumstances Stewart & Gretch can assist in determining the types and scope of your POAs. A POA is an effective mechanism to avoid the cost and complication of guardianship proceedings should you ever become incapacitated.
Directive to Physicians
A Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (also known as a Living Will) is a document which provides instructions to an attending physician to withhold or withdraw life sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition. The directive allows you to determine if you would prefer life support withdrawn if you are terminally ill and will die in six (6) months or if you are in an irreversible condition and will die without life support. If you choose to eliminate life sustaining procedures, in either situation you would only receive treatment that keeps you comfortable.