Estates and Probate Law
You can control the allocation of accumulated assets both before and after death through careful planning. Jeffrey L. Novy will navigate the complex network of laws governing estate and probate, and will help you fulfill your short and long-term goals. Available areas of representation include:
- HIPPA Release
- Power of Attorney (for financial purposes)
- Living Wills (Directives to Physicians)
- Medical Powers of Attorney
- Declaration of Guardians
Common Questions about Estate Planning:
Question: Why Do I need a Will?
To control the distribution of your property. A Will is a written legal document that allows you to decide how and to whom your property should be distributed after your death. If you have a Will, you are said to die “testate.” If you do not have a Will, you are said to die “intestate,” and your estate will be distributed pursuant to the Texas Probate Code. A Will assures that your estate will be distributed to the people you choose.
A Will allows you to appoint an Independent Executor to manage your estate. The duties of the Independent Executor include carrying out your wishes and settling your estate. These duties include collecting all property, paying all debts, settling all claims, filing tax returns (if necessary) and hiring an attorney to assist with these services. Typically, a close family member or trusted friend is appointed to serve as the Independent Executor. You may also wish to name alternates should your Independent Executor be unable or unwilling to serve.
To name a Guardian for your minor child / children. This is probably the most important reason to have a Will. If you do not have a named guardian, the probate judge will make the decision of who the guardian of your child / children will be. Normally, a surviving parent would become the guardian, but it could also be a relative or friend depending on your family situation at the time of your death. You should not only name a guardian but an alternate choice in this instance as well.
Question: Who will inherit my property if I die without a Will?
In Texas, if you die without a valid Will, all probate property passes under the laws of “intestate” succession, pursuant to the Texas Probate Codes.
Common Questions about Power of Attorney:
Question: What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
This is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone to make non-medical (financial) decisions on your behalf and to sign your name on other legal documents. The Durable Power of Attorney can be used when a person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated, and therefore, it must be prepared and signed before you become incapacitated.
Question: What is Medical Power of Attorney?
This is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions should you become unable to make them for yourself. The agent decides what treatment you should receive and when it should cease. It is important that you choose someone who understands and will consider your beliefs and values about life, illness, medical treatment, suffering and death.
Question: What is a Directive to Physicians
(also known as a Living Will)?
This legal document allows you to inform medical personnel in advance that you do not want to be kept alive by mechanical means if there is no hope of recovery to a normal life.
Question: What is the difference between a Medical Power of Attorney and a Directive to Physicians?
The main difference between the two documents is that the Medical Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to make most medical decisions for you in accordance with your known wishes. A Directive to Physicians actually expresses your specific wishes pertaining to life sustaining treatment.
Common Questions about Probate:
Question: What is probate?
Probate is the legal process by which the deceased’s property is transferred to the heirs and/or beneficiaries. The probate process may be necessary for those who die with or without a Will. A Will must be submitted to the court within four (4) years of the date of death for probate. If a person dies without a Will, the heirship laws under the Texas Probate Code govern distribution of property and guardianship of minor children.