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Houston Texas Estate Planning Blog

Why you need an estate plan

Texas law provides a sort of default estate plan via the intestacy rules. However, these regulations are probably not going to do many of the things that a complete estate plan could for your loved ones. Therefore, while an estate plan is not required by law, it is often necessary if you have specific goals for the distribution of your assets.

Apart from directing your wealth where you want after you are no longer able to make decisions, estate plans have other related benefits and functions. At Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law, we realize that our clients are often making personal decisions as well as legal or financial ones when they craft their goals for the future. Through our practice, here is how we strive to maximize all of the benefits of estate plans.

What types of guardianships can be included in a will?

Drafting a last will and testament may not be a top priority. Yet, estate planning is important for people at any age, especially if you have young children or are the caregiver of an adult. It is important to know who will take care of your loved ones should something unexpected happen, rendering you unable to make critical decisions regarding their care. Appointing a guardian in your last will and testament may be one of the  most critical decisions you make, and it is essential that you understand what types of guardianships are available. 

In addition to appointing a guardian to care for minor children, you can declare someone as guardian of an incapcitated adult or elder citizen. If you are unable to maintain care of that person, the guardian will be given legal rights to make decisions on their behalf. Full guardianship gives full responsibility and decision-making rights over a person’s financial, medical and legal affairs. 

Talking to your parent about estate planning

Many conversations in life can be difficult to have, especially between parents and their children. Some parents may need to talk to their children about difficult topics that they would rather avoid, and even the opposite situation could be true in which children need to bring up tough topics to their parents. In the latter case, even adult children can have a hard time broaching certain subjects.

For instance, as your parent ages, you may feel the need to bring up whether he or she has created an estate plan. If your parent has not mentioned such a plan to you, it is possible that there is no plan. It is unlikely that your parent wants to leave his or her affairs in disarray for you to handle, but you may still hesitate to bring up the conversation.

Factors to keep in mind when drafting a will

When people think of tasks that need to be completed, creating a last will and testament may not come to mind. It is difficult to think of a time where we will not be here with friends and loved ones. It may also be a far reach to consider what will happen to the property and assets one has accumulated during a lifetime after they pass. Whether one has just reached retirement age or is just starting a family, it is important to consider creating a will. This document records what will happen to the estate if an unexpected accident should occur. 

There are many critical details to include in the last will and testament to ensure everything runs smoothly once one passes away. The executor of the estate and will is one who will be in charge of taking the estate through the probate process and ensure everything is handled according to the wishes stated in the will. If an executor is not named in the last will and testament, one will be appointed by the state. If possible, one should choose a responsible executor that they trust to oversee the finalization of the will. 

Your estate plan in a blended family

If you are preparing to get remarried after having previously been divorced or widowed, you are likely faced with many decisions not just about your wedding but about how you and your new spouse plan to merge your lives. Texas residents who get married for the second or subsequent times are generally more established in their personal and professional lives. This can warrant unique needs when getting remarried.

Estate planning is one activity that takes on a new level of importance for remarried couples, especially if one or both partners has children from a prior marriage or relationship. As explained by CNBC, dying without a plan in place leaves the door open for your children to end up without anything you had originally planned for them to receive. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that states otherwise, your surviving spouse may end up inheriting most things with no legal requirement that they share anything with your children.

What to expect when facing complicated estate planning

At Doehring & Doehring, Attorneys at Law, we understand that complicated estate planning needs tailored, creative solutions. That is why we work with our clients from the formation of an initial plan to the ongoing maintenance and updating that is typically necessary.

While every client is different, there is a relatively standard process. Knowing the general steps could help shape your expectations about approaching a complex estate plan. Please read on for a brief overview.

It could be time to take another look at your estate plan

If you are reading about estate plans, then it could be time for you to update or revisit yours. Texas law changes from time to time, and it is likely that your own family situation does the same.

It is rarely inappropriate to look at your plans for your family's future. However, there are some times when it could be even more important to analyze how your assets may behave and the potential consequences for your loved ones.

What does it mean to be a beneficiary?

After the death of a loved one, many Texas residents find it comforting to learn that their family member left something behind for them. In some cases, the assets could be of value, or they could be sentimental. Whatever the case, individuals are often keen on obtaining the bequests intended for them.

Of course, if you believe that you are a beneficiary, you may want to remember that there are different types of beneficiaries and that you may not necessarily stand first in line to obtain a particular asset. If the probate process for your loved one's estate is about to begin, you may want to know what that means for you as a possible beneficiary.

Should I be a personal representative?

If someone named you as their personal representative, it probably means that you held a position of trust. Your loved one probably had confidence that you would make the right decisions about the estate. However, the Texas inheritance process is not something you have to navigate by yourself.

Chances are it was not the intent for the execution of his or her estate to become an undue burden. Unfortunately, especially with complex or multi-generational estates, this could become the case if you do not approach the situation carefully. Generally speaking, the more people that are involved in an estate, the more complex and potentially contentious your resolution could be.

Which estates need probate in Texas?

You would not typically have to go through probate in Texas for estates worth less than $75,000. This is good news for people who qualify, as the loss of a loved one is devastating enough without adding the potential stress of the often-complex probate process. However, even if the value of the estate is under the limit, you may still need to do some legal work in order to make sure that you transfer the assets properly and incur the minimum tax penalty.

There are a few reasons why you would want to be careful if you were inheriting any amount of money. In the first place, the cap for small estates is relatively high; $75,000 is a good amount of money. Second, you would want to make sure everything is done correctly when you first submit your documents in order to avoid any delays in resolving the estate. 

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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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