By cottenwesto57742814, Mar 21 2017 01:43PM
Rather than leading off with any single legal issue, I thought I might introduce myself to those of you who do not know me, or who know me in another capacity.
My name is Weston Cotten and I am a local attorney, meaning I live in Highlands, and have for 60 of my 65 years. I have worked as a telephone company marketing executive, an electrician and a school teacher, to name only a few of the career paths down which I have wandered. I learned a little something from each of them and reached the conclusion that I did not play well with others, hence my position as a solo practice attorney with my office at 5223 Garth Road, in Baytown..
During my wanderings, I have been a member of the Jaycees, both in Arkansas and Baytown, coach and treasurer in the Highlands Little League, Member, past secretary and past president (x2) of the Highlands Rotary Club with 26 years perfect attendance, former long time member of the Goose Creek School Board, current memeber of he Lee College Board of Regents, a lifetime member of the NRA, a Mason and a Shriner.
My family consists of my wife Delene, three children, Chet (Carl Chester) and wife Amber, their two children, Avery & Blayre who are isolated in Longmont Colorado. If I am not in my office, I am probably either there or leaving soon to visit them. My middle child Chrissa and her husband Brian, and grand-sons Hunter and Trip who live down the street in Highlands. My youngest son, Nathan is living in Little Rier Academy, Texas (close to Temple, married to Tara and has 1 child, Dawn. My mother, Maudie (Cotten) Starling lives at St. James House in Baytown.. My Mother -in-law, Myrt Rogers lives in Baytown. My brother, Weldon (Bo) and his wife Norma live next door. Then there are a number of aunts, uncles and cousins of varying degrees that are part of a close, but widely extended family. I am happy to call most of them family. Family is important to me as I hope is evident.
Family being what it is to me leads me to my legal point(s) . There are many simple and relatively inexpensive documents which can make life with you and without you simpler and easier to maneuver the pitfalls of impairment or death. Everyone should have at a minimum a will ( Last Will and Testament or a trust). If you die without a Will or “Living Trust”, you will have no choice as to how your property will be distributed. Upon your death the Texas Will (rules of intestate distribution) will be substituted for your wishes. Furthermore, your estate may be frozen or encumbered with legal expenses and delays during the probate process if you do not have a Will, or trust. You will have no choice in who cares for your minor, or incapacitated children, or handles their affairs. You also will have no opportunity to legally avoid estate taxes. Next on your list for consideration should be powers of attorney, both financial and medical. A financial Power of Attorney enables you to appoint someone to act on your behalf during your lifetime regarding financial matters. Many people appoint their spouse or another trusted family member to serve as their "agent" or “attorney in fact.” Frequently, one or more alternate agents are named to serve in case one is unable.. These documents prove particularly useful if you become incapacitated. The Texas Legislature has created a form known as a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney. That instrument, under the heading of"Special Instructions," allows you to empower your agent to make gifts on your behalf. Without this specific authorization, the IRS takes the position that no gifts can be made on your behalf for tax, estate planning, or benevolent purposes if you are incapacitated. The form also allows you to choose an effective date for the Power of Attorney. By marking out the Provision labeled "A" the Power of Attorney is effective only upon your disability, or a “Springing Power of Attorney.” Most married couples make their Powers of Attorney effective immediately, therefore, not limiting use of the Power of Attorney to time periods when you are incapacitated. A Medical Power of Attorney, as the name indicates, allows someone to act on your behalf during your lifetime during periods of incapacity to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf. Most will appoint a family member, or trusted friend to make the decisions, or serve as their “agent”. Naming more than one alternate agent is usually good practice. The Medical Power of Attorney is activated only in case you are incapacitates and incapable of making medical treatment decisions on your behalf. Even if you sign the Medical Power of Attorney, you can make health care decisions for yourself so long as you are capable of making such decisions. Treatment may not be started or stopped over your objection.
Lastly, if you do not want to be artificially kept alive you will need a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (sometimes called a "Directive" or "Living Will") informs others of your desires to withhold or continue life sustaining treatment in the event you have an "irreversible condition" or a "terminal condition." Usually referred to as “pulling the plug” on life sustaining measures when death is imminent, but can be prolonged. Most simply direct that life sustaining measures be withheld or withdrawn if they do not preserve, maintain, ir increase one’s quality of life.
There are other things that you can do to make your death easier to bear such as pre-need funeral arrangements and making sure you have adequate life insurance and savings to resolve any unpaid debts and to provide for your family when yo are no longer able to provide a paycheck.
I am available to assist you in planning for your future, whether you live without impairments, survive with impairments, or die. Your family deserves no less.