Estate planning is usually the last thing on our minds, especially if we’re young and healthy. Unfortunately, tragedy can strike us at any moment. Accidents and healthcare emergencies can emerge often out of nowhere. In the midst of a global pandemic, this is all the more relevant.
Many people have never heard of an estate plan or don’t understand how it differs from a will. An estate plan includes a will — but that’s not where it ends. It’s a guide to distributing all your assets and protecting your family in case you pass away or become incapacitated for you to have peace of mind. In addition to a will, you should also determine:
- An advance directive laying out your end-of-life wishes
- Your power of attorney, both for medical and financial purposes
- Trust funds to leave behind for your loved ones
- Life insurance after your death
As a Houston estate probate lawyer, I’ve witnessed the consequences of failing to plan — which often burden a deceased person’s family. Consulting with a Houston estate planning attorney can help you discuss your goals and come up with a solution for your estate plan in order to protect your family’s future. Regardless of what stage of life you’re in, here’s why planning your estate is a wise choice.
Why You Need an Estate Plan
The consequences of not having an estate plan can be far-reaching for your family members and loved ones. Lacking an estate plan can lead to an unwanted distribution of your assets and disputes among family members.
Estate Plans Protect Your End-of-Life Wishes
In the case that you become incapacitated without an estate plan, several things can happen. If you’re in a coma or otherwise unable to make decisions, the state will choose who makes health care decisions for you. Your family will often be the ones responsible for making the heavy decision of whether to keep up with life support costs.
Estate Plans Protect Your Family And Ensure Your Children’s Future
We all hope to be there for our children as they grow up, but life can be unpredictable. That’s why it’s crucial to plan for the unexpected and make sure your children are protected. Without a will, a judge will determine who will care for your children, which can be a stressful and uncertain situation. Through the creation of a will, it is possible to designate a trusted guardian who will take responsibility for your children’s care and well-being until they reach adulthood.
In addition to choosing a guardian, you can also appoint a trustee to manage your children’s financial assets. This becomes particularly significant if your children are young and lack proper management skills. By choosing the right person for the job, you can ensure that your assets are used wisely and in the best interests of your children. It’s important to note that unnecessary expenditures can quickly deplete trust funds. Thus, appointing a trustee to manage the funds would be a sensible decision.
While creating a will can be a complex undertaking, the potential benefits make it a worthwhile endeavor. In the event of an unforeseen circumstance, arranging for the care of your children can provide you peace of mind and a sense of security. In addition, you will have the chance to make crucial decisions about the future of your children instead of relying on a judge’s judgment.
Estate Plans Implement Your Wishes After You Pass
If you don’t settle your wishes in legally enforceable writing and documentation, the state of Texas is free to decide what happens to your estate. Your assets don’t go to the government, but the law does decide who gets a piece of your estate and how much they receive. Without any sort of legal plan in Texas, your estate will primarily go to your spouse and surviving children. With no spouse or children, it goes to any surviving parents.
Estate Plans Prevent Legal Disputes Among Loved Ones
Arguments and legal battles among loved ones are a common occurrence. Fights often ensue over who gets a piece of your money, belongings, and assets. Relatives can even sue your estate if they feel entitled to an inheritance they didn’t receive. Such disputes end in tension and can even end up breaking your family apart.
The last thing you want to be worried about is how your family will fare financially after your passing. With an estate plan, you can give your loved ones one less thing to worry about in the wake of your passing.
Texas Laws on Estate Planning
The state of Texas has its own laws surrounding estate planning. In Texas, there is no state estate or inheritance tax, but there is still a federal tax for highly-valued estates. Without these taxes, the complications of the estate planning process are greatly reduced. Texas also does not require probate for estates that are valued at less than $75,000.
Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that Texas recognizes common-law spouses, as well as adoptive and illegitimate kids as having equal inheritance rights with legally married spouses and legitimate children.
These are a few of the nuances of how Texas estate law can impact your estate plan. Understanding how estate planning works in the state of Texas and Houston is very important in helping ensure that your plan is foolproof.
The Benefits of Estate Planning
A person’s estate plan is not just beneficial for them, but also for their family. Planning for the future is a way to ensure that the family is going to be protected even after unexpected events happen. The benefits of having a comprehensive estate plan include the ability to avoid probate, provide for your family, protect your assets, prepare for incapacitation and ensure your loved ones are cared for.
Planning for your estate ensures that you and your loved ones are well taken care of. Estate planning lawyer Whitney L. Thompson has the knowledge and experience to assist you in drafting a legal and comprehensive estate plan.
Get in Touch with an Estate Probate Lawyer Today
Whether you need to create an estate plan or update it, I can help. Contact us today so we can discuss your goals and come up with a solution for your estate plan.