The last thing you want to worry about is what will happen to your family and estate when you pass. Maybe you have been concerned about this idea for a while or maybe it is a passing thought you have never considered deeply.
If you are looking for an experienced Houston estate planning attorney to consult with about estate planning, there are a few things you should know. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our attorneys can guide individuals through the intricacies of estate planning. With our extensive knowledge of the law and attention to detail, we can assist you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets and ensures that your wishes are carried out. Contact us today at (281) 214-0173 to schedule a consultation and secure your family’s future with the help of these essential estate planning tools.
What Can An Estate Plan Do For You?
Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” (NKJV)
The most significant gift an estate plan can give you and your family is peace. Regardless of how many assets you possess, small or large, an estate plan can give you peace of mind this holiday season.
After you pass, there will be no confusion about who receives your assets or what your final wishes are. Your loved ones will stay out of financial distress since you planned out inheritances or designated trusts. If you keep your estate plan updated regularly, your assets will not go to those who you do not want to receive them.
Without an estate plan, your assets are subject to passing according to the laws of intestacy. If you want to be in control of how your assets are distributed, it is important to discuss your options with an estate planning attorney.
Litigation and discord are financially draining to an estate and detrimental to the welfare of families. No one wants to leave their family in disarray due to poor planning or failure to plan.
What Comes with Your Plan?
There are several essential components to an estate plan. Depending on how your needs change or how your relationships evolve, you may decide to update them later on. If you get married or divorced, for instance, you will likely need to make revisions. Regardless of what stage of life you are at, here are just a few cornerstones of a comprehensive estate plan.
#1: Formal Will
Your will is largely responsible for ensuring your preferred asset distribution. You get to name who will receive your money and belongings as well as how much they will get. You also get to appoint an executor who will ensure your belongings are distributed the way you wanted them to be. Additionally, you can name the guardians of any minor children.
Similar to a will, trusts designate who will manage your money, property, and belongings. However, they differ in that you are in charge of your living trust when you are alive. If you only include a will in your estate plan, your family will need to go to probate court to follow the plans laid out. Trusts do not require such obstacles — they are effective immediately. There are also trusts known as testamentary trusts that can be established within your will and funded upon your death.
#3: Power of Attorney
Designating someone as your power of attorney means they can make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. Financial and healthcare powers of attorney will make all choices for you concerning finances or medical decisions. We help you ensure that you appoint trusted individuals who know precisely what your wishes are.
#4: End-of-Life Planning
There may come a time when you need additional care after an accident or illness. Your condition may require you to live out the rest of your life in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or hospice care. Your estate plan is where you lay out those end-of-life wishes and the funds to pay for any facilities you choose to go to.
|Key Components of an Estate Plan||Description|
|Formal Will||Specifies the distribution of assets, including money and belongings, appoints an executor, and designates guardians for minor children.|
|Trusts||Designates individuals to manage money, property, and belongings. Living trusts are effective immediately, while testamentary trusts can be established within a will and funded upon death.|
|Power of Attorney||Designates someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Financial and healthcare powers of attorney can handle financial matters and medical decisions according to your wishes.|
|End-of-Life Planning||Outlines your wishes and funds for end-of-life care, such as living in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or hospice care, in the event of an accident or illness that requires additional care.|
Texas Last Will and Testament
Drafting a last will and testament in Texas enables you to establish a comprehensive plan for the distribution of your assets, including real estate, personal belongings, and property, upon your death. It offers the testator (the person creating the will) the opportunity to provide for their spouse, children, loved ones, and even pets.
One significant advantage of having a last will and testament is the ability to designate an executor for your estate. The executor’s role is vital in executing the instructions specified in the will and making determinations concerning the distribution of assets. Creating a will provides reassurance to the testator, knowing that their wishes will be honored after their passing.
To fulfill the basic requirements for a valid will in Texas, the following conditions need to be met:
- Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old, except if they are in the armed forces or have been lawfully married.
- Capacity: The testator must possess a sound mind, enabling them to make decisions and comprehend the consequences of creating a will. They must also have the legal right and authority to establish a last will and testament.
- Signature: The will must be signed by the testator or by another person in their presence and under their guidance.
- Witnesses: Unless the entire will is handwritten by the testator, it must be signed by two or more witnesses who are at least fourteen years old.
- Writing: Holographic wills, which are entirely handwritten, may be considered valid in Texas in very specific circumstances. However, it is generally advised to have a typed and properly executed will to avoid the risk of invalidation and will contests..
- Beneficiaries: A Texas last will and testament can allocate property distribution to any individual, but it is mandatory to name at least one beneficiary.
Ensure peace of mind for your loved ones with the help of a Houston estate planning attorney. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our attorneys can guide you through the intricate process of creating a legally binding will that accurately reflects your final wishes. From asset distribution to guardianship designations, their personalized approach ensures your estate is protected, and your legacy preserved for future generations. Contact us today to secure your family’s future.
Life Insurance and Estate Planning
Although life insurance can be used for estate planning in many different ways, it is most often used to provide financial support for loved ones. Life insurance policies often are able to provide funds immediately upon your passing to your loved ones to cover lost income, pay funeral costs and settle any outstanding debts. These policies are often exempted from the same taxes as your estate is subject to after your death. Families often use life insurance funds to pay federal estate taxes. This is especially true if assets are not distributed in a timely manner.
As a means to divide the ownership of a family company, life insurance is often used in Estate Planning. Many business owners purchase whole life insurance policies that specify how ownership will be divided upon their death. Each person can decide whether to sell their share or keep it if ownership is divided among their heirs. These policies are designed to facilitate smooth ownership transitions and maintain business operations in case of death.
Speaking to an experienced estate planning lawyer may be helpful if you want to learn more about how life insurance can be incorporated into your estate plan. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Ready to Form an Estate Plan?
A comprehensive estate plan is an important tool to protect your legacy for your loved one’s future. It can also help your loved ones avoid probate problems in the event you pass away. Get the benefit and expertise of an attorney seasoned in estate planning. Schedule consultation and contact the Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, PLLC, today.