Even small estates require thoughtful estate planning decisions in Texas

Many people know that seemingly small decisions and events can often become quite significant. The same is applicable to estate planning, or the lack thereof.

Johnny Thunders, a pioneering punk rock musician, died over 20 years ago with a mere $4,000 to his name. At his death, his sister was appointed as the administrator of his estate and she generated — according to court documents — a significant amount of money that was paid out to his loved ones over the years.

Recently, a song that helped make him famous landed on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list of Rolling Stone magazine. With the increased attention to his past musical hits, his surviving family is now suing each other over his estate. Arguing the loudest are his two sons who both spend time in and out of jail for drug and financial crimes.

While most families do not experience such major issues, all endure some bumps and sorrows along the way that may affect their end-of-life decision-making.

From deciding who will administrate your estate to which child or children will inherit certain personal items, each choice you make may become a divisive issue for your loved ones.

Making hard decisions

Too often, parents need to make hard decisions. Children are not created equally and some have special needs or need a little extra handholding during their lives and when they come into their inheritances. Such circumstances can arise due to the following:

  • Disability
  • Youth or advanced age
  • Long-term illness or disease
  • Mentally or emotionally-affected capabilities
  • Drug or alcohol dependence or addiction
  • Gambling or financial dependence issues

When a child or another loved one is unable or unwilling to handle their own affairs, there is a variety of estate planning options available to you.

Even small estates require thoughtful estate planning decisions in Texas

Powers of attorney for medical, financial and other important needs should be set up not only for yourself but also for those who cannot make their own decisions. Guardians should be appointed in your will for minor children and those with special needs. Trusts can be tailored to fit your family’s circumstances. For example, if you wish to delay your children’s receipt of their inheritances, you may establish a staggered payout based on each recipient’s age.

Special needs trusts allow you to manage income and assets for a loved one who is unable to manage their own financial needs. Such trusts may be established during your lifetime and can continue after you are gone, providing assistance to your child without impairing his or her ability to collect benefits from governmental agencies.

Consult a lawyer

These are just a few of many options available for Texans who wish to provide for their families. Consult an experienced estate planning attorney for all your planning, guardianship, probate and elder law needs. A lawyer knowledgeable about these areas of law can help you create an estate plan that is best for your circumstances.