When filling out your planning forms, you'll be asked to name agents, an executor, a guardian, and possibly a trustee for a minor child. Read on to learn more about each role and how to pick your people.

Durable Power of Attorney: Gives the person named broad power and authority to manage your property. This should be someone you trust completely to make your financial decisions for you. This person is answerable only to you and to a court-appointed guardian of you. This agent does not have the right to override your decisions but only works on your behalf.

Medical Power of Attorney: Gives the person named the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to make the decisions yourself. Your agent is expected to make decisions as you would have.

Guardian (of self): Gives the person named authority to manage your assets and be in charge of your personal well-being should you ever need a court appointed guardian. Replaces the agents under the power of attorney, court may restrict your rights and return you to the same status as a minor child.

Example choice hierarchy: 1. Spouse, 2. Adult Child or Sibling, 3. Sibling or Parent


For each role, please name a primary, an alternate and (optionally) a third person to serve as your agent.

Your will outlines who you wish to receive your property, how they receive it, and who is in charge.

Executor: given the responsibility of securing your property after your death, submitting your will to court, and processing your assets to give them to your beneficiaries. This is a limited role and is over once all property is distributed.

Beneficiary: the person you name to inherit from you. May be any person you choose or an organization. Examples are spouse, children, heirs, or charities.

Heirs: your closest blood relatives, both descendants and ascendants (children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, etc.). The order in which an heir would inherit is set by Texas law.

Every will contains a trust to ensure that property inherited by a minor child has a trustee to care for it until the child reaches the age of majority. We will talk more in detail about the kind of trust to be used, whether it will be for people under age 25 or if it will extend their lifetimes, but use this space to think about who, besides your spouse or the other parent of the children, might be good as trustee.

Guardian of Child: should no parent survive, this person is appointed by the court to care for the body of your minor child. Should there be no trustee or if property is left to a minor child without a trust, the court may appoint a guardian of the child's estate to manage property until the child reaches the age of majority.