Who Needs Estate Planning?
No matter your net worth, it's important to have an estate plan in place. Such planning ensures that your family and financial goals are met. Estate Planning makes it easier for your loved ones to handle your affairs, knowing they're doing exactly what you would have wanted.
The most important part of Estate Planning is understanding all of your options.
Why you need Estate Planning
Control: In your Last Will and Testament you can decide how your possessions will be distributed, and who gets them. Otherwise, state intestacy laws will make these decisions for you.
You Have Minor Children: If you have minor children, having a Will is of upmost importance. In your Will you can appoint guardians for your minor children.
Prevent Family Disputes: If you die without a Will, all of your heirs will become co-owners of every asset that you owned, and they may not be able to agree on what should be done with the property. The more heirs you have, the more expensive and time consuming it will be to probate your estate and to wind up your affairs.
Disadvantages of Dying Without a Will: The additional costs and time to probate your estate and wind up your affairs.
Reasons to Update your Estate Plan
♦ A new individual should be named in your documents (e.g. birth, adoption).
♦ A change in choice of executor, trustee, or guardian.
♦ Divorce or Marriage.
♦ Relocation from another state. If you have moved to Texas from another state, your Will should be reviewed in order to ensure that it meets Texas requirements as each state has different legal requirements for making a Last Will and Testament.
♦ The individuals named in your estate planning documents are deceased.
♦ New Laws. You should periodically have your estate planning documents reviewed for the effect of any new laws that have been enacted that may impact your documents.
♦ A substantial increase or decrease in the value of your estate.
♦ The passage of time. To keep current with life's changes you should review your estate planning documents every couple of years.
Important Estate Planning Documents That You Should Have
Last Will and Testament: A legal document which creates a plan for the transfer of assets upon death.
Statutory Durable Power of Attorney: A legal document which enables another person to act on your behalf with regard to financial matters. The durable clause of the power of attorney guarantees that the agent can act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
Medical Power of Attorney: A legal document which enables another person to make health treatment decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated.
Directive to Physicians: A legal document designed to communicate your wishes related to life sustaining treatments and procedures in the event that your are incapacitated.
The Risks of Drafting Your Own Documents
By drafting your own estate planning documents you risk that your estate will not be handled as you had intended. Texas has very specific requirements regarding Last Will and Testaments. If your Will does not meet all of these requirements, it will make it more difficult for your family to handle your estate, increasing the time and costs of probate. By using online services or form books to draft your estate planning documents you risk not complying with Texas law, using the wrong form, or incorrectly preparing it. Most importantly, these forms are not individualized and do not consider your unique circumstances.
Estate Planning documents are very important for you and your family and the services of a licensed attorney should be sought to assist you in preparing these documents. That is the only way to be assured that the documents comply with current state law so that your wishes can be followed as you intended.