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Texas estate planning: What is a general power of attorney?

If you live in the state of Texas and are interested in creating or changing your estate plan, there are many details to consider.

For many, a general power of attorney is of utmost importance. This gives your agent the ability to handle your affairs, as outlined, if you are incapacitated. For example, if you become ill and are unable to make decisions on your own, this person can make decisions on your behalf.

A general power of attorney typically grants the agent the ability to do the following;

-- Settle claims

-- Make bank transactions

-- Buy and sell property

-- File tax returns

-- Exercise stock rights

-- Manage real estate

Along with the above, you can staff your agent with the power to do the following:

-- Make gifts, such as to family and friends

-- Maintain business interests

-- Hire professional help, such as an attorney or tax professional

In addition to a general power of attorney, there are other types, such as a medical power of attorney, to consider. Knowing what a general power of attorney can and cannot do will help you decide where else to focus your time.

When it comes to Texas estate planning, the process can be as simple or difficult as you make it. Just make sure you don't skip over what is most important for the sake of saving time. If you don't have a general power of attorney in place, this is something to consider. It could save you and your family a lot of trouble in the future.

Source: Quicken Loans, "Types of Power of Attorney" accessed Mar. 24, 2015

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