All Texans were impacted by the recent polar vortex that resulting in five sequential winter storms all within one week, though some more that others.  Some were merely housebound for a week, while others lost power, water and/or heat. Not a fun week for most of us.

However, did this impact your estate plan?  For most of us, probably not.  But some of our clients are discovering that it wasn’t the freeze than impacted their plan as much as the thaw that followed.  With the thaw came water leaks from busted water pipes, and flooding.  If you are in this boat (flooding pun intended), you may be wondering what you should do.

If you have access to copies, you may be wondering if that is good enough.  For many purposes, the answer is yes.  But this depends primarily on whether, not weather (sorry, can’t help myself) the person dealing with an agent will agree to rely on a copy.  For instance, if the planning document destroyed was a last will and testament, a copy can be probated by the executor, but there are additional requirements of proof for the probating of a copy, and so some additional effort and expense.

If a statutory durable power of attorney is involved, and the power is being used to transfer real property by the agent, then often the power of attorney is required to be filed in the land records along with the deed, but the county clerk’s office is unable to record copies.

So while the ability to produce copies of the fully executed originals may serve for most purposes, it is more prudent to simply have new documents printed and resigned.  For our clients, we are doing that at a nominal charge to make sure they are able to produce original documents when required, so they won’t be left out in the cold by the inability to produce an original document.


Michael G. Carroll