It can be difficult for individuals to consider their own mortality. Even worse, though, is sitting down to decide which of your surviving loved ones will receive your assets after you pass away. Many people are content to avoid developing an estate plan due to the unsavory nature of the activity.
No matter your health, wealth or age, it is wise to consider the impact that a comprehensive estate plan can have on your life and the lives of your surviving loved ones. While some people are content to wait and let Texas statutes do the "heavy lifting" of asset distribution, most people should consider the peace of mind and the element of control that a well-drafted will can provide.
Although carefully thinking about a will and then following through after due reflection by executing such a document is certainly an example of good estate planning in Texas and elsewhere, it might not qualify as comprehensive planning.
A proven estate planning attorney can tell you exactly why and help ensure that your wishes regarding real and personal property, gifting, charitable contribution, family heirlooms and legacies, bequests to surviving family members and other important considerations are fully and faithfully carried out.
And it is important to note early on that merely executing a will might not get the job completely done.
An attorney in a will contest that played out with vigor and venom in one state's court system noted with vast understatement that a unanimous court ruling in favor of his clients on appeal was "a pretty big deal."
Indeed, it was a very big deal.
The acrimonious will dispute that dragged out through successive layers of Alabama's judiciary is also worthy of comment in this blog and other sources that comment on estate administration matters, for myriad reasons.
When learning about guardianship, the first thing to know about is proper terminology. Many people use the terms guardianship and conservatorship interchangeably, and in some states conservatorship is the proper term. Under Texas law, the correct term is guardianship.
When someone is incapable of making their own decisions, either due to a minor age or incapacity, a court can appoint an individual to do this for him or her. The appointed person is called the guardian and the minor child or incapacitated adult is called the ward. A guardian can be appointed to make decisions on behalf of the ward, the ward's estate or both.
Do you know what a pour-over will is and how creation of such a document might benefit your estate planning needs?
Are you aware of the privacy considerations afforded by a revocable trust as opposed to a will, and how they affect probate considerations?
Do you fully understand all the reasons why it is just as important to periodically revisit and adjust estate planning documents as it was to have drafted them in the first place?
Are you aware that your will and one or more trusts might not comprehensively deal with all your expectations regarding inheritances for loved ones?
Perhaps you’ve always been a careful and meticulous person, timely attending to all relevant aspects of your personal life in order to enhance predictability and certainty.
In the realm of estate planning, that implies many things. For starters, it means that you thought carefully about drafting a will and then followed through on that intent. To be truly effective as envisioned, this important planning document must be specifically tailored to all important facets of your life. Moreover, it must be void of stale information that no longer makes sense in light of circumstances that changed over time, and in conformance with legal requirements regarding drafting and execution.
For many people in Texas and elsewhere, of course, effective planning goes far beyond a will. It can also entail the careful crafting of one or more trusts, close attention paid to health care matters and long-term care planning and additional issues.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about how estate planning is something that needs to be done earlier in life, not later. We discussed some of the reasons why this is, and it really is important for all younger people to realize that even though you may not have as many assets as someone 10 or 20 years your senior, you still need an estate plan for the things you do have. A freak accident could claim your life, and without an estate plan, the things you do have won't be protected in ways offered by an estate plan.
Along the same lines, it is important for people to realize that an estate plan isn't just for the wealthy. It may seem that way -- estate plans are often portrayed as ways for rich people to shield assets. However, this is just a stereotype and it does not reflect the true importance of an estate plan.
No one wants their family members to have to deal with legal complications after they pass away. That's why so many people here in Texas and across the nation are so meticulous about their estate plans. Making sure that everything is handled properly and all applicable laws are followed is the best way to avoid legal messes that can arise after you're gone.
But sometimes even the best laid estate plans can run into speed bumps, especially when parties argue over the contents of the estate. We can see this exemplified by the high-profile case involving the family of the late Carl Pohland, former owner of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, and the Internal Revenue Service.
“[B]etter late than never” is an adage that does not apply to estate planning.
So notes a writer in an estate planning article from Forbes that focuses on the essentials and provides some meaningful tips for people who have thought about but not implemented a solid plan to provide for their future.
In millions of cases across the country, that future of course encompasses loved ones. Perhaps they are contemplated in an asset-transfer scheme. Maybe one or more family members have special needs that need to be purposefully addressed through specific estate planning instruments. Perhaps there are children from multiple marriages that must be considered.
One of the basic documents that can be crucial in estate planning is a will. Wills allow a person to express his or wishes for how property and other assets should be distributed after death.
Preparing your will can be difficult; it may be uncomfortable to make these types of plans and it can be a complicated legal process that ends up overwhelming people. However, those who have a will in place know that it can be a great source of relief to know that your wishes are expressed and your loved ones will be taken care of. However, updating your will can be essential in making sure the terms and allowances stay relevant over time.