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Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

Woman uses estate plan to help fight bullying

There are many different causes a person may care greatly about during the course of their lifetime. An important thing to note is that a person's support of causes that are important to them doesn't have to end when they pass away. One of the things individuals here in Texas can use estate plans for is setting up after-death gifts towards causes they care about so they can continue to financially support the cause even after they die. 

This use of estate planning can be seen in an after-death gift a woman in another state recently made. The gift is aimed at fighting bullying.

Survey: nearly 2/3rds of Americans are without a will

Wills are very powerful and helpful legal documents. They let a person express, in a legally enforceable manner, what should happen with their property and other important matters when they die. Thus, having a will can give a person a great deal of control regarding what will happen when they pass away.

However, despite all this, many Americans continue to not have a legal will. Just how widespread lacking a will is in the country can be seen in a recent survey. Based on the answers given by respondents, the survey indicates that around 64 percent of Americans are without a will.

How are 'ethical wills' different from legal wills?

One type of will you may have heard of recently is an "ethical will." These wills are also sometimes referred to as "legacy letters." Ethical wills have been around for a long time, but have recently seen a spike in popularity.

Ethical wills are quite different from legal wills. For one, legal wills are (when executed properly) binding and legally-enforceable documents, whereas ethical wills are typically non-legal, non-binding documents. 

Probate implications of the same-sex marriage decision

As our readers have likely heard, last week, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal throughout the entire nation. This will have some major implications here in Texas, as Texas was one of the states that did not legally recognize such marriages. An important thing to note is that these implications are not limited to just the area of family law. The Supreme Court's decision has implications for many areas of law here in Texas, including estate planning and probate.

Estate planning can help with a wide range of things

One assumption some might make about estate planning is that estate planning is just about setting up who gets what stuff when you pass away. It is true that post-death asset distribution is one of the major things that wills and other estate planning documents typically touch on. It is also important to not underestimate how important having a clear plan in place regarding such distribution is. Having a well-tailored and legally enforceable plan for such distribution in one's estate plan can help make property distribution issues less complicated for one's family when one passes away and help ensure that the assets one worked so hard for during their life go where they would want upon their death.

Important role assignments in estate planning documents

Among the decisions that come before a person when estate planning is the decision of who to assign important roles to in one's estate plan. There are a variety of very important roles that can be assigned in estate planning documents and devices. We will now go over some examples of this.

In a will, a person can assign who their executor will be. An executor generally plays a very major role in the estate administration process.

A loved one is incapacitated. Will you be allowed to help?

An interesting question came up recently: What would persuade young millennials to begin discussions with their families about long-term care planning. Young people often still have their parents and their grandparents living, which sets up the expectation that older generations are in charge of these plans. So, if millennials don't have children of their own, estate planning and elder law don't come up all that often.

Until they do, of course. In a recent post to LifeHealthPro, a life and health insurance industry site, one woman of the millennial generation described what happened when her grandmother was hospitalized. 

What does the guardian appointment process involve?

There are many different things individuals may wonder about when it comes to guardianships in Texas. One is what the process of getting a guardian appointed for an individual who is unable to manage their own affairs generally entails. Today's post will be a general overview of this process.

We will start with how this process is kicked off. The process is started by an application for the appointment of a guardian being filed with a court. There are many different individuals that could potentially file such an application. Individuals who are wondering if they would be able to file such an application in relation to a loved one that they believe may need a guardian and what filing such an application would involve should consider bringing the questions they have to a guardianship attorney.  

Privacy concerns and trusts

There are many benefits that having trusts in one's estate plan can potentially have. One such benefit are privacy benefits. Trusts can sometimes provide a greater degree of financial privacy than other estate planning mechanisms.

However, there are things that can weaken a trust's privacy protection abilities. One is if litigation ends up arising in relation to a trust. This is because a lot of financial matters can potentially end up coming out into the open in court proceedings related to trust litigation.  

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