For many reasons, your relationship with family can be complicated. Maybe they disprove of your lifestyle (or vice versa). Perhaps you were the child of a messy divorce and haven’t spoken to the “other” parent in many years. Maybe one of you ended up in a relationship that has driven a wedge between the family. No matter the reason, every family can be subject to the strong feelings that these issues can bring. Occasionally, things get so bad that it’s simply easier to break ties with the other family member rather than deal with the problems.
For those who break ties (whether permanently or temporarily), your decision may have legal implications. First, understand that the law routinely gives certain rights to close family members if the need arises. For example, in the absence of advance planning, certain relatives may be allowed to make emergency medical decisions for you if you can’t do so for yourself. In addition, if you unexpectedly die without any planning (like a Last Will & Testament), your heirs (which may include those from whom you’re estranged) may inherit your property, while others (who you love) get nothing. While there are certainly exceptions and intricacies to the law, if you’re in a situation like this you should simply focus on the fact that someone you’re estranged from could be in the position of making important legal decisions on your behalf or even inheriting your property.
Consider this Scenario: For the last several years, you’ve been in a relationship that your parents strongly reject. You live with your significant other and, for all intents and purposes, consider yourself married (but haven’t formally taken the plunge). You haven’t spoken to your parents in several years and are confident they wouldn’t treat your significant other in accordance with your wishes. One day, while going to work, you’re involved in a serious accident that leaves you permanently disabled. Because you’ve done no advance planning, the hospital looks to your parents for medical decisions. Likewise, after you leave the hospital, your parents file for legal guardianship to control your finances and personal decisions. Your significant other is given very little regard and almost no say over what happens to you.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to resolve this problem. If you’re an adult, you have the right to execute simple legal documents which will allow you the right to indicate your preferences. You may choose to expressly disqualify your parents from serving as your guardian, inheriting from you, or even serving as the personal representative (e.g., executor) or your estate when you die. Even if you don’t plan on getting married, you may designate your significant other to be the person who is responsible for you or your property. Basic estate planning is very simple, typically low cost, and will easily resolve all issues like the one presented here. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate. Contact a qualified lawyer to discuss your needs and situation directly. Chris Parvin is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and can help you today. To watch a quick, two-minute video on Estate Planning and learn more, click here.
ATTORNEY CHRIS PARVIN is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Parvin is the Managing Attorney of the Dallas, Texas law firm of the Parvin Law Group, P.C. and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Mr. Parvin can be reached by email at [email protected].
PARVIN LAW, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, Business Law and Family Law. Learn more about our practice and group of dedicated legal professionals by visiting our website at www.parvinlaw.com.