It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in — your family will always need some estate planning. Estate planning is making a plan in advance and naming who you want to receive the things you own after you die. However, good estate planning includes much more than a basic will.
Everyone has an estate. Your estate consists of everything you own, your home, real estate, furniture, personal property, vehicles, checking and savings accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance, and retirement accounts.
Being prepared and controlling how and to whom your estate is given when you die or become incapacitated is something all adults need to do. To ensure your wishes are carried out the way you want, you need to provide a set of written instructions.
My estate planning process takes into account and includes:
- Instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
- Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, work ethic, etc.).
- Specific provisions for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
- Naming the proper beneficiary of life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts.
- Instructions for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
- Naming a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
- Provisions for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
- Many clients are extremely concerned about minimizing administrative hassles, court intervention, taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees. I strongly believe that when a crisis hits, your plan should be arranged so that your family avoids as much of these expenses as possible.
Everyone needs to plan their estate.
Estate planning is not just for “retired” people or “wealthy” people. Everyone needs to plan their estate. If you don’t plan ahead yourself, the state of Texas will have a default plan, but it’s probably not the plan you want.
If you become disabled, a court, not your family, will control how your assets are invested and used.
If you are a parent and die with a minor child, a court determines who will raise your child. Courts can’t just give an inheritance outright to a minor. Therefore, any inheritance directed to your minor child will be controlled by a court. If both parents die and there is no estate planning, the court, as expensive and annoying as it is, will control your children’s inheritance. At age 18, when most parents plan for their children to attend college, your child will gain complete and unprotected access to their inheritance.
In Texas, if you are married but have a child from a previous marriage, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (i.e., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.
Most people prefer these matters be handled privately by their family, not by the courts.
Estate planning also means peace of mind.
Knowing you have properly prepared and planned your estate will give you and your family peace of mind. Planning your estate is one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for yourself and for those you love. Having an attorney who knows you, knows your family and knows your goals, dreams and aspirations is an extraordinary relief and benefit.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. Contact our office today.