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Houston Texas Estate Planning Blog

Understanding your role as an estate administer

Recently, one of your family members has asked if you would be interested and willing to be an estate administer. At first thought, you feel like this would be an invaluable opportunity to support someone you love, but you also want to make sure you are making a good and well-informed decision. At Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law, we have helped many families in Texas to learn about the legalities of creating, implementing and executing a well-thought estate plan. 

In simple terms, being an estate administer means you are the person who is primarily responsible for overseeing the execution of your family member's estate. You will be in charge of making sure bank accounts are closed, lines of credit are paid, assets are distributed properly and property is liquidated according to that person's wishes. In determining whether or not you are willing to play a role in the execution of your family member's estate, AARP suggests some important things for you to consider:

  • Temperament - Are you the kind of person that gets along well with other family members? Do you work well under pressure? Are you a confident decision-maker?
  • Financial security - Do you have the funds to travel if needed? Do you have a job that would accommodate your needs if you need to take time off to assist with estate responsibilities?
  • Timing - Do you have the time to oversee the execution? 
  • Legal terms - Are you familiar with the legalities of being an administer? Do you understand the terms of your responsibilities?

What is an irrevocable life insurance trust?

If you are a Texan unfamiliar with estate planning, you may not be familiar with the term "irrevocable life insurance trust." According to FindLaw, an irrevocable life insurance trust is a life insurance policy managed by a designated trustee who distributes benefits to your heirs after your death according to the terms that you specify when creating the trust. Once you have successfully created an irrevocable trust, you can no longer change it, nor can your trustee or anyone else.

Due to the unchangeable nature of an irrevocable life insurance trust, you must take care with its creation. However, it has advantages over a traditional life insurance policy under certain circumstances, particularly if your beneficiaries also receive government aid or if your estate may be subject to a death tax, also known as an estate tax liability.

What is probate?

Talk about probate is very common when discussing wills or after someone passes away in Texas. This process is not as understood as it should be, though. You may not truly understand what it means, which could lead to confusion down the road. Understanding this term can help you to better plan your own estate and handles the estates when loved ones die.

The Texas Young Lawyers Association explains that probate is the process of proving a will is valid. The court looks over the will and any other information provided to make a ruling. Once the will is deemed valid and legal, the wishes contained within the document can be carried out. If the will is found not valid, the estate then transfers to heirs as directed by state law without consideration to what was in the will.

How to choose a guardian for your child

Most parents agree that their most valuable asset is their child. However, only 36 percent of parents with children under 18 years old have estate planning documents, such as a will or trust. Estate planning is a significant aspect of managing assets and protecting your children.

Parents can start small by choosing a guardian for your children in case of a tragedy. Selecting the right guardian may seem daunting, but there are three techniques parents should consider easing the process.

Innovative application designed to protect seniors from fraud

As people near retirement age, they often face the excitement and anticipation of having more time to pursue their passions, travel and spend time with family members. However, as people age, they also face the very real risk of being taken advantage of in some way. More often, there are stories on the news of seniors in Texas who have been cheated or lied to because of someone's fraudulent behavior.

Recently an innovative technology was debuted to the public with the goal to protect the elderly from fraudulent behavior they may be unware of. The technology was created to alert at-risk seniors of potential hazards that could affect their legal protection. Some examples include notifications related to financial security, housing, health care and elder abuse. Users have the option to select between two versions of the program with one providing a bit more detail than the standard option. 

A closer look at the responsibilities of a designated executor

When people begin to coordinate their long-term care needs in the form of a will, they are going to need to make many important decisions regarding their wealth, possessions and personal needs. In many cases, they will need to designate an executor in Texas who will have the responsibility of overseeing their requests upon their death. This person should be trustworthy and someone who knows the deceased well. 

According to Forbes.com, an executor maintains several responsibilities that must be carefully fulfilled to guarantee that the deceased's will is followed and his or her wishes are honored. Some of their responsibilities may include the following:

  • They should protect all estate assets. 
  • They should thoroughly assess and understand all documents related to the estate and trust.
  • They should see that all debts are paid off in a timely manner.
  • They should make sure that all named beneficiaries get the allotted payouts listed on the deceased's will. 

Disinheriting your family member the right way

You have recently begun to rethink your will and are considering modifying the heirs you have designated in your original estate plan. Fortunately for you, changing things around is relatively easy and allows you to make needed modifications as your life changes. However, disinheriting a family member can be a bit stressful as you try to do it without causing hurt feelings. At Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law, we have helped many families in Texas to coordinate, modify and finalize their estate plan. 

According to Psychology Today, there are different reasons why you may consider disinheriting someone from your will. A common reason is because you have discovered that another family member would benefit more from the proceeds you have listed. You also may have decided to gift monetary benefits to family members who are kinder or who have been more supportive throughout the years. 

What mistakes can be made when writing your will?

You are knee-deep in the process of writing a will and planning your estate and things are only getting more confusing. As you prepare to pick apart your future and create a plan for the rest of your life, it is important that you do things the right way. When you are writing a will in Texas, failure to pay attention and follow the rules can negate your will entirely or leave parts of it open to individual interpretation. Your awareness of common mistakes that people make when writing a will can help you to avoid the same missteps as you coordinate your future plan.

According to nasdaq.com, financial advisors report that when mistakes are made, you could be left with consequences that cost a lot of money and time to correct. Additionally, if the outcome is not what you had envisioned, you could be dealing with heartbreaking consequences despite your efforts to have a will in place. As you begin articulating your final wishes, consider these tips along the way: 

  • Should you ever come across a clause that you would like to modify and update, make sure you do it right away. Assuming that your wishes will be honored if they are not in writing can be exceptionally risky. 
  • Remember that you are signing a contract when you sign your will. If you wish to make changes to the names listed as your beneficiaries, it will need to be approved by a legal professional. 
  • All of the details that you wish to be known must be written out in your will. The more concise you are, the less that is left up to individual discretion. 

Independent vs. dependent probate administration in Texas

Perhaps you are leery of having your Texas estate go through probate after your death. At Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law, we understand the nuances of probate, and often advise our clients of their options for minimizing the time and expense of this process.

Texas offers two different ways for an estate to go through probate. The court takes an active role in overseeing the process during dependent administration. If you believe one of your heirs may challenge the will, or you have some complex instructions, having that supervision is advisable. 

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Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law
2000 S. Dairy Ashford Street, Suite 298
Houston, TX 77077

Phone: 866-456-2361
Fax: 281-497-8630
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