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Costly estate planning mistakes to avoid

As with most things, a person in Texas who wants to create a will can find do-it-yourself instructions online. However, the estate planning process often encompasses more than the creation of will, and individual circumstances could warrant more than a generic template. In addition to overlooking the importance of creating other tools of such a plan, a do-it-yourself approach can result in costly delays in the administration of an estate.

A person who creates his or her own will may be able to save money in the short term. However, such an approach may overlook the long-term benefits of having a professional guide the process. For example, the person's estate may benefit from a properly funded trust which can help the estate avoid both probate and taxes.

Daughter questions beneficiary's role in father's will

An experienced attorney can help those in Texas create estate planning documents. Having a neutral party with experience with the law can help prevent accusations of undue influence. For example, an out-of-state woman is currently questioning her father's will.

Her father passed away in Dec. 2015, leaving behind an estate valued at $1.2 million. He had originally written a will in 1984 leaving most of his estate to his then-wife and his children. However, he allegedly revised his will shortly before his death. The revisions ultimately left the bulk of his estate in the hands of a couple who are described as friends of the man.

Property division an important part of estate planning

Life is full of decisions. When it comes to estate planning in Texas, parents are often left making decisions that seem unfair. However, depending on individual circumstances, simply leaving everything to split evenly between children can be problematic.

For example, one mother divided her property equally between all of her children. However, one of her children had special needs and was living in a group home for people who qualify for Medicaid. As part of the program he was in, he also worked a special job in the community. However, the inheritance he received upon his mother's death disqualified him from receiving Medicaid, meaning he was facing eviction from the group home.

Why do people in Texas choose a special needs trust?

A will and other estate planning tools can help people ensure that their estate is divided according to their wishes. For many people, tools such as a trust can help provide greater flexibility in regard to asset distribution. In some situations in Texas, a special needs trust may be necessary to ensure that a person who is unable to make decisions or care for him or herself receives life-long care.

When it comes to a family member with special needs, a special needs trust could be an effective tool. Such a trust may be especially useful since a person who has over $2,000 in assets may not qualify for government assistance. Fortunately, a trust can potentially help a person with special needs without interfering with his or her benefits.

Care planning important in Texas estate plan

When most people consider the estate planning process, their thoughts immediately go to creating their will, and they may not think about anything more than that. However, there are other options to consider. In some instances, a person may become unable to make medical decisions for him or herself. With no previous care planning, doctors in Texas will turn to family members to make important medical decision.

In some cases, this could leave a family member making decisions that the person would not choose. For example, a relative that the patient has had little contact with in years and knows nothing about the person's wishes could ultimately be the person attempting to make decisions. Fortunately, there are legal remedies that can give a person more say in the medical treatment he or she receives even in the event of incapacitation.

Important estate planning considerations in Texas

Most parents in Texas spend their life attempting to be fair to their children and ensuring that they treat them equally. However, some come to the realization that fair treatment does not always mean treating children the same way. The same extends to the estate planning process. Parents are often left making difficult decisions in how their estate will be divided and who will serve as their personal representative.

Parents who are making decisions regarding the distribution and administration of their estate often consider family dynamics. For example, many people name their oldest child to serve as the executor of their estate. While this may seem like the fair option, it ignores the fact that there may be others who are more suited to the task, including a child who is more willing to consult with their siblings before making decisions. Another option some people choose is to name all children to serve together, but many times it may not be possible for multiple children to come to a unanimous decisions.

The essential elements of estate planning in Texas

When most people in Texas think of planning for the future, they likely think of saving money for a big purchase or a vacation. For others, it involves planning for retirement. Regardless of what future event a person is considering, estate planning could potentially help meet financial goals. The process helps the living preserve and manage their assets. Once a person has passed away, having a solid estate plan controls the distribution of the estate according to his or her wishes.

When most people think of planning their estates, they most likely think of drafting a will. A will is, in fact, one of the most important aspects of an estate plan, dictating how assets will be divided. Without one, an estate will be divided according to state law, potentially in a way that does not match the person's wishes.

Estate planning consideration for snowbirds

After people in Texas retire, they find that they have a great deal more flexibility in their life -- including where they choose to live. Rather than starting over completely new, some people opt to become so-called "snowbirds." Snowbirds are people who divide their time between two or more locations, often in an effort to avoid extreme weather. While a satisfying arrangement for many, it can create additional complications for estate planning.

People who live in multiple locations often own property in different states. In some cases, they may have bank accounts and vehicles registered in different states. Regardless of their presence, however, one location is considered their legal residence. Which state is considered a legal residence may have an impact on a person's estate.

Guarding against successful incompetency claim in estate planning

As people in Texas age, they start to think about how they would like their estates distributed after they pass away.  Many choose to work with an experienced estate planning professional to make sure their wishes are honored. Despite their efforts, some family members may choose to challenge an estate plan. As a result, many professionals offer advice that can either potentially dissuade a person from issuing a challenge or safeguard an estate if a plan is challenged.  

In some cases, a person who has been disinherited may be financially motivated to challenge an estate. While some people creating a will or other estate planning documents may want to send a message by leaving a token amount, such as $5, many professionals recommend against this action. Instead of completely disinheriting the person or leaving a token amount, some professionals advise leaving the person a sum sufficient enough to prevent him or her from challenging the estate to prevent the risk of losing what was left. 

The purpose of a guardianship in Texas

Life is often unexpected. A person in Texas who may be perfectly healthy one day may be involved in a car accident or suffer an unexpected medical condition that leaves him or her unable to make decisions. As a result, he or she may become part of a guardianship.

A person who is named as a guardian can make important decisions for his or her ward. If the person who is disabled or incapacitated has not created a durable power of attorney, the court will appoint someone to serve in that position. A guardian can help ensure that a ward's estate does not accrue excessive liabilities during the time of incapacitation.

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