Ask Amy: How do you know if you need a will? + Free estate planning help

We know - it’s not fun to think about what will happen after we die. But planning now will save your family stress and money. This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Estate planning is not just about money and assets. This can be about your medical care or what to do about your kids if they are minors.


Can I just write out what I want on a piece of paper? How official does a will need to be?

In the latest Ask Amy episode, Attorney Bri Holcombe with Hunt Law Firm helped answer the most common questions people ask. For a will, can you just write something out and sign it?

“Texas does allow for what is called a holographic will. That’s you handwriting your will out on paper. It’s got to be in your own handwriting and there are a few key terms you want to make sure is included,” said Holcombe.

Texas Law Help.org has easy to find forms you can download and fill out. There are also frequently asked questions about DIY wills that will help guide you in the wording.

Don’t just set it and forget it. There are times you should consider updating legal documents.

“You’ve got more children, your family makeup has changed, the executor you named has passed, we want to make sure we amend and update the documents to reflect your current wishes. There’s no limit to how many times you update your documents,” said Holcombe.

You should also consider adding legal documents when your children grow up. When a child turns 18, they may be ready to leave the nest but what happens if they get sick or need emergency medical care? Parents may not have the same rights as they had before.

Parents need legal document to make medical decisions

College students might want to consider filling out medical release forms to give parents authority to make medical decisions. (Thomas Wells)

Parents often assume if their child is still on their insurance plan, they have a say about care. This is not the case. Once your child turns 18, you no longer have the authority to make medical decisions just because you are the parent.

HIPAA laws restrict your access to important medical information - which could be devastating if you’re ever in the position to act quickly on your child’s behalf.

“Let’s say you are at A&M and you are involved in an accident. Who is going to make those decisions? If you don’t have a power of attorney in place or a HIPAA release, or an advanced directive, maybe somebody else is making those calls and as parents you want to make sure you are protecting your children at all costs.”

Forms young adults should consider filling out

You can also find these forms on Texas Law Help. Holcombe says if you have something that gets too complicated, or you just want a second set of eyes over what you fill out you can always hire an attorney just to review what you filled out at home.

SEE MORE: You can watch the full Ask Amy episode on this topic here.


About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.