PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE WITH ESTATE PLANNING
Your home, your car, your bank accounts, your investments, your life insurance and all of your other personal possessions… everything you own makes up your ‘estate.’ Even if you can’t take your estate with you when you pass away, you would probably want to have control over how it’s used or passed to the people you care most about upon your death. To ensure your wishes are met and are not determined by the Texas court, you need to plan for who receives what and when and with the least amount paid in estate taxes and court costs.
This is what estate planning is.
But how do you put together an effective estate plan? You may want to consult with a seasoned Fort Bend estate planning attorney to tailor a comprehensive plan that will fit you and your family’s specific needs.
ESTATE PLANNING BEGINS WITH A WILL
A will, also called “the last will and testament,” is a legally binding document that sets forth your intentions as to:
- How your estate should be managed and distributed?
- Who should be identified as your beneficiaries?
- Who should be appointed the legal guardian of your minor children?
- Who should make health care decisions for you if you are medically not able to do so?
REQUIREMENTS FOR WRITING A LEGALLY BINDING WILL IN TEXAS
In order to execute a valid will in Texas, you must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind. You must also have at least two credible witnesses (three, if it’s an oral will). For the will to have legal effect, however, it should be presented to the Texas probate court. Because Texas probate law is complicated and changes very often, it’s important to work closely with a Texas wills attorney in the absence of a will. The last will and testament drawn up by a qualified Texas will creation lawyer will usually stand up in front of a judge and court and save your family from redundant costs and delay in the probate process.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WILL, TEXAS HAS ONE FOR YOU, BUT YOU PROBABLY WON’T LIKE IT
In Texas, if you die intestate (without leaving a valid will), your property will be distributed in a manner set by the Texas probate statutes, which may conflict with the way you would have chosen to have your assets distributed. Under Texas law, who gets what depends on whether or not you have living children, parents or other relatives when you die. The state’s scheme uses blood relationships to determine who gets the assets of the estate. While you might have a specific person in mind for a treasured item you know they would love and cherish, the state’s plan might be to give it to someone who would never value it as much. Depending on the family that remains when you pass, Texas laws could also pass your estate to family members you don’t like and bypass those that really care about you or took care of you when you needed it.
IS A WILL ALL YOU NEED TO PLAN YOUR ESTATE IN TEXAS?
When people think about estate planning, they generally think only about a will. Although a will is an important part of an estate plan, it only takes effect after you die and cannot avoid probation. Other documents are needed to carry out your wishes and manage your assets in the event you are temporarily or permanently disabled or you need to avoid probation. Some of these documents include:
TEXAS DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A durable power of attorney is a legal process that gives you (the principal) the power to appoint a trusted family member or friend as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” to make health care and end-of-life decisions on your behalf in the event you are no longer capable of making them yourself, such as if you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Unexpected injuries or illness can occur at any age, so all adults should have one in place.
- LIVING WILL
A living will, also called a healthcare directive, is a legally binding document that allows you to state your medical preferences in the event you become incapacitated. For instance, you may instruct your physicians not to use artificial means to keep you alive in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition.
- REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST
Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will must go through the Texas probate process before they can be distributed to your beneficiaries. This can be a very lengthy and expensive court process, which can take a lot of money away from the estate. And so, during your estate planning, you can opt to put valuable assets in a revocable living trust to protect your family’s inheritance. A revocable living trust is a legal document that can be used to accommodate the control of your property and financial assets. As a trustee, you manage your trust assets while you are alive and in good health. And when you die, your trust will pass to your specified successor trustee.
THE BEST TIME TO PLAN YOUR ESTATE IS NOW
Estate planning can be seen as a chore, but working with the right team of wills and trusts lawyer such as those at Lawrence Law Firm, PLLC, can come in handy. With years of experience in Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Texas, we can work closely with you on developing a well-thought-out estate plan that will provide peace-of-mind knowing your heirs will not be burdened with the task and costs of dividing up an estate.
Contact us today for a free consultation on your estate planning needs.