Frequently Asked Questions

The field of estate planning can seem complex and to a certain degree it is. That doesn’t mean its basics are beyond the grasp of a layperson. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions in estate planning. The Law Office of Paul D. Hardy understands the details and nuances of estate planning and we want to help our clients do the same. We’re proud to serve the people of San Antonio and extending outward to Comal County, Kendall County, Hayes County.

 Call us at (210) 405-1985 or contact us online to ask us the questions that might be keeping you up at night. 

  • Estate Planning

    • What Is Elder Law?

      Elder law is the simple term for describing the legal practice areas that cover the subjects above and a whole lot more. Everything from power of attorney to trusts to guardianships to long-term care planning come under the umbrella of elder law. So does the tragedy of elder abuse, which includes not just physical violence, but exploitation and neglect. Elder abuse can be a felony in the state of Texas.

      The Law Office of Paul D. Hardy is committed to both sound estate planning and making the complexities of the field understandable to our clients. Call us at (210) 405-1985 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation.

    • How Do I Pay for Long Term Care?

      Medicare does not cover most long-term care expenses, which include assisted living and can also cover everything from an in-home health aide to hospice. The same goes for most standard private health insurance plans. An estate planning strategy aimed at protecting your assets will include either insurance specifically designed to meet long-term care needs or some other financial mechanism.

    • Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living?

      Medicaid will only cover assisted living expenses so long as the beneficiary’s income and assets do not exceed certain levels. Furthermore, Medicaid has rules in place designed to prevent people from rapidly selling off or giving away assets in order to qualify. The good news is that there are reasonable options that a far-sighted attorney can work with you on to get help from Medicaid without giving away everything.

    • What Is Guardianship?

      Guardianship is similar to power of attorney in that one person gains the legal authority over another’s affairs. But while power of attorney applies only to specific situations, guardianship can be much further reaching. An adult child who needs to pay bills or cash checks on behalf of a badly declining parent might need guardianship authority to access a bank account. Texas courts require clear and convincing evidence of a person’s incapacitation before granting anyone guardianship over them.

    • What Does a Power of Attorney Do?

      Power of attorney gives a person legal authority to act on behalf of another. In estate planning it typically refers to the authority you might grant someone in the areas of medical or financial decision-making. Power of attorney is something that becomes invoked when you are deemed either physically or mentally incapable of performing certain tasks, at which point the person you have designated assumes responsibility for you. A common application of power of attorney is when a designated health care proxy makes end-of-life decisions on behalf of someone who is mentally incapacitated.

    • What Kinds of Trusts Are There?

      There are a number of names given to trusts, often referring to the benefits they give or under what conditions those benefits are dispersed. But when it comes to living trusts, you can really group all of them under two separate umbrellas. The first is a revocable trust, which allows you to change its terms while you’re still alive while surrendering some of the tax benefits. The irrevocable trust cannot be altered but offers significantly more tax advantages.

    • What Are the Benefits of a Trust?

      Staying out of probate court is just one of the advantages that a living trust can offer. A trust can be structured so as to minimize your tax exposure ,while still allowing you to gift money into it while you’re alive. If you believe the benefits to your beneficiaries are best deferred to a later date or spread out over time, you can appoint a trustee who can administer that after your passing. A trust offers you flexibility and allows your beneficiaries to avoid dealing with probate court .

    • What Happens Without a Will?

      When you die without a will, your estate becomes subject to the intestacy laws in the state of Texas. The state seeks to place your assets in the hands of living spouses, children, siblings and parents and has clear guidelines for different family scenarios. The problem is that the law for an entire state is simply not able to anticipate the particular wishes of a deceased person. That’s why it’s strongly advised to put your last will and testament into writing. That way, everyone knows what your wishes are, and courts will be able to enforce it.

    • Can You Avoid Probate With a Will?

      A will alone will not be enough for your heirs to avoid going through probate court, with its attendant fees. The way to keep your assets out of probate court is through the establishment of a living trust.

    • Isn’t Estate Planning for People Who Are Rich?

      No! The word “estate” can conjure up images of a sprawling yard and luxurious mansion, as though we’re on the set of Downton Abbey. Reality is different. Your estate is simply the money and property you own at the time of your death. Estate planning consists of the various legal mechanisms that are used to ensure your wishes are known and respected, that you get the best possible tax treatment based on your goals and that prudent steps are taken to protect your assets as much as possible in your final years of life.