Essential Estate Planning Documents

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Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is for anyone who has property, children, or strong feelings about their health or finances. When you meet with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer at The Law Office of Jason Carr, you will learn about the essential estate planning documents you should consider creating in order to ensure your legal and financial rights remain protected. Contact our experienced and dedicated Texas estate planning lawyers today at (214) 800-2366 and arrange a confidential consultation to discuss your estate planning needs and protect your legacy.

Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament (will) is the cornerstone of many estate plans. With this document, you can:

  • Direct what should happen to your property after your death
  • Nominate a guardian for your minor children
  • Appoint a personal representative who is responsible for carrying out your final wishes described in the document

Having a will lets you avoid the Texas laws of intestacy, the state’s default rules that are used to determine who should inherit your property and in what proportions if you do not have a Last Will and Testament.


A trust is a legal document in which you provide details specifically regarding how the property transferred to the trust should be managed. A trustee is named who is responsible for following your directions. A person can name themselves as a trustee, and then name a successor trustee to continue the responsibilities in the event of death or incapacitation.  A trustee manages the trust property for the benefits of all beneficiaries, who are the people or entities named to receive the assets held in trust. A trust can be used in addition to or as a replacement for other estate planning documents, such as a Last Will and Testament and/or Power of Attorney.

Durable Power of Attorney

Texas law allows its residents to nominate an agent to handle finances through the execution of a durable power of attorney document. Durable means that the agent will continue to have the powers designated in the document even if a person becomes disabled or incapacitated. A durable power of attorney form can be as broad or limited as you want and can provide authority related to transactions involving:

  • Real property
  • Personal property
  • Digital assets
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Commodities and options
  • Retirement accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Accounts with other financial institutions
  • Insurance and annuities
  • Business operations
  • Estate, trusts, and beneficiaries
  • Personal and family maintenance
  • Civil or public benefits
  • Legal claims and litigation
  • Tax matters
Medical Power of Attorney

A medical power of attorney allows a person to appoint a trusted individual to make medical decisions on their behalf in the even that they are unable to make these decisions for themselves. Having a trusted advocate on your side can provide you with great peace of mind if you are ever in a situation where you are unable to communicate your wishes due to illness or incapacity.

Living Will

A living will is an important estate planning document that allows a person to clearly establish the types of medical treatments you want (or do not want) to receive in the event of a terminal or irreversible medical condition. This could include treatments, such as:

  • Life-sustaining treatment
  • Medications
  • Artificial life support
  • Kidney dialysis treatment
  • Artificially administered nutrition and hydration
Beneficiary Designation Forms

Some property may transfer after death to beneficiaries outside of the probate process. For certain accounts or assets, a person can determine who will receive assets and property following their death through the execution of specific beneficiary designation legal documents. In these cases, the property automatically transfers to the person designated in the legal document. These types of beneficiary designations typically occur in the following documents:

  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Annuities
  • 401(k)s, IRAs, 403(b)s, and other retirement accounts
Transfer on Death Forms

Other accounts or property may transfer outside of the probate process because they are transfer-on-death or payable-on-death forms, and can include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds

Creating a transfer-on-death account is typically a simple process that involves completing a form with your financial institution.

Lady Bird Deed

A transfer-on-death deed, or Lady Bird deed, is a specific type of deed that is provided for under the state law of Texas. Texas Law Help explains that a properly recorded transfer-on-death deed is a simple way to transfer real property after a person passes away. Probate is not necessary for the asset when this valid type of deed is created. A transfer-on-death deed can provide substantial savings as real property is typically a person’s most valuable property.

A transfer-on-death deed allows you to name, ahead of time, the person you want to inherit your real property. It is important to note that creating the deed does not create any immediate rights in the property. You are free to revoke the deed at any point during your life. After your death, the property transfers to the new owner, outside of the probate process.

Letter of Intent

While a letter of intent is not an official estate planning document, it provides context for your loved ones about the decisions you have made in your estate plan. You may express your wishes about your funeral arrangements, values regarding end-of-life care, or how you want your property managed following your death. This document can help give direction to your executor, fiduciaries, your beneficiaries, and your loved ones.

List of Important Documents

Finally, you ensure the protection of your essential estate planning documents by creating a list of important documents. You should consider planning for the possibility that your family may not know where important information is kept. You can create a list of important documents and indicate their location on your list, which may include:

  • Life insurance policies and annuities
  • Birth certificates and adoption records
  • Marriage certificates and divorce papers
  • Real estate deeds
  • Bank account statements
  • A list of your current bills and creditors
  • Your estate planning documents
  • Brokerage account statements
  • Pension or retirement account statements
  • An inventory of your assets

An experienced Texas estate planning lawyer from The Law Office of Jason Carr can consult with you and determine which estate planning documents can help you protect your legal and financial rights.

Contact Our Estate Planning Lawyers to Learn More

Creating a comprehensive estate plan can feel overwhelming. Our experienced estate planning attorneys would welcome the opportunity to ensure your legacy is protected according to your wishes. If you would like help creating your specific essential estate planning documents, consider contacting our compassionate estate planning lawyers at The Law Office of Jason Carr at (214) 800-2366 today.

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