Thom Goolsby on Wills and Estate Planning

Wills and Estate Planning


A Will distributes property you own when you die.  It cannot control property subject to a right of survivorship or that does not terminate at your death.  A Will should not be drafted in general terms to control whatever assets you own at your death and to cover whatever beneficiaries are living at your death, so you do not have to revise it frequently.

Your will is the best place to name who will physically take care of minor children, should you die before your children are grown and on their own (legally at age 18.)  You should pick one or two more persons you would trust with your children, and equally important, people who are willing to take on the tremendous responsibility of taking care of your children.  Whatever you do, contact these people and get their permission before you name them in your will.

 Living Will

A living will is a legal document that a person uses to make known his/her wishes regarding life prolonging medical treatments. A living will is commonly referred to as an advance directive, health care directive, or a physician's directive. A living will is not a living trust, which is a mechanism for holding and distributing a person's assets to avoid probate. It is important to have a living will as it informs your health care providers and your family about your desires for medical treatment in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.
 Living Trust
A trust is a product of the law in which one party - the Trustee - has legal ownership of any form of property that has been transferred to him/her or "it" (i.e., a bank) by the person establishing the trust.  A living trust is created during the maker's lifetime. Some living trusts are set up so that they can be changed during the maker's lifetime. These are called revocable trusts. Others, known as irrevocable trusts, are set up so that they can not be touched.
 Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document in which you give someone the legal authority to act for you. That person is called your attorney-in-fact or your agent. You may name your spouse, an adult child, a relative or trusted friend as your agent. The actions of your agent authorized by your power of attorney are legally considered your actions. A durable power of attorney states that it either remains or becomes effective after you become incapacitated. A non-durable power of attorney ends if you become incompetent or incapacitated.