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Houston Texas Estate Planning Blog

Don't let myths keep you from making an estate plan

If you are among the many adults in Texas who have not created an estate plan, you are not alone. In fact, most people die intestate, that is, without a will, leaving their loved ones to make assumptions about their assets and funeral arrangements. Even more upsetting are those situations where someone becomes critically ill but has left no instructions for medical care or last wishes.

The first step to making any important decision, including those decisions necessary for a complete estate plan, is to gain as much information as possible about your options. With estate planning, obtaining the facts you need begins with clarifying some of the misunderstandings you may hold about the process.

Should you inform your beneficiaries of your decision?

When you start to iron out the details of your estate plan in Texas, one of the steps you will take is to designate who you would like listed as beneficiaries. However, making this selection is not the last time that you will need to work with the people you have chosen. 

Your beneficiaries may appreciate knowing that you have listed them on your estate plan. Additionally, they may appreciate some general information about their role in your future and what they can expect upon your passing. ARGI reminds you that disclosing some information to the people you have listed as beneficiaries does not mean you have to provide all of the details. Keeping aspects of your plan personal is important to maintain confidentiality. Especially if you find the need to alter who you have listed as a beneficiary. 

Strategies for distributing your money when you die

What happens to all of your money when you die? If you have been thinking about this question, you are not alone. The truth is, there are many methods you could use for distributing your money before or after you pass away. Finding the one that works for you is really a matter of personal preference and financial stability. At Doehring & Doehring, Attorneys at Law, we are experienced in helping people in Texas to coordinate a customized estate plan. 

When you have made a decision about who you want to list as heirs on your will, it is imperative that you notify them. Involving your family members throughout your efforts to plan your estate is a valuable way to help diffuse contention or confusion about what it is that you want. Providing clarification can also prevent disputes from happening after you die. Depending on the method you have chosen for distributing your money and assets, disclose this information to the people who will be affected by your decision so everyone has a mutual understanding. 

Reviewing some reasons why probate disputes arise

Even when things move forward smoothly, the probate process can be challenging. However, it can be especially complicated to work through this process in certain instances, such as when a dispute arises. There are many reasons why probate disputes surface and we will explore some of them in this blog post. If you find yourself in the middle of a dispute, whether you are in charge of a loved one's estate or you are a beneficiary, it is pivotal to understand your options and try to resolve the dispute properly.

In some cases, beneficiaries accuse those in charge of an estate of failing to uphold their responsibilities. Probate disputes may also involve a disagreement over guardianship or the wording of an estate plan and its validity. In some instances, the chances of such a dispute arising may be especially high. For example, a dysfunctional family or siblings who have a long-standing rivalry may be more likely to dispute some aspect of their loved one's estate plan or the way in which it is being managed.

Estate plan revision due to a personal injury settlement

There are all sorts of issues to tackle when it comes to estate planning, and everyone is in a different position when it comes to their estate. Aside from determining which type of plan is most sensible, focusing on the benefits of an estate plan and figuring out how it could affect loved ones, people who have already worked through all of these issues may have estate planning considerations arise in the future. For example, those who are injured because of another's negligence and receive a significant personal injury settlement may need to go over their estate plan once again.

Personal injury settlements can change one's life in many different ways. Sometimes, people in this position are not able to work any longer, which could have a significant impact on their financial future. On the other hand, some people obtain very large settlements, which can change their lives (as well as the lives of their loved ones). In these instances, reviewing an estate plan and making any necessary changes is imperative.

What you should know about out-of-state property and your will

If you own a vacation home, condominium or piece of land outside of Texas, you may need more than just a will to ensure your assets pass on as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Because real estate is always subject to the laws of the state in which it’s found, your family members could have to attend probate court proceedings in each state where you owned property. These out-of-state proceedings are known as “ancillary probate.” They vary in complexity and can be costly, but they can also be avoided.

Unsettled family conflict can derail an estate plan

While conflict is a natural part of many family units in Texas, there are certain situations when unsolved disagreements can wreak havoc on relationships that could end up causing long-term damage. Estate planning for one is a topic that can be met with angst and hesitation by some family members and is also one that can create ongoing conflict even after the death of the person who created the plan. 

Reducing familial conflict is critical to a person's ability to guarantee that the estate plan he or she has curated will be executed according to the vision that was had while it was being written. According to, three of the largest culprits of family contention, after a person passes away, are the following:

  • Unmet expectations that were unrealistic and misunderstood in the first place. 
  • The drama between certain family members or parties that have created strong opinions about who should receive what.
  • Poor communication that ultimately leaves family members with conflicting information that causes confusion and frustration. 

Tough decisions involving beneficiaries

We completely understand how challenging estate planning can be for some people, especially those who have uncertainty. Not only are some people unsure of which type of estate plan will suit their needs best, but some may be unsure of how to move forward with a will or a trust. For example, someone could be unsure of whether someone should be named as a beneficiary, or how to divide their assets among beneficiaries. There are many different angles to consider and people in Houston and across Texas will likely benefit from reviewing all of their options in detail.

If you are struggling with decisions involving beneficiaries, there are a number of ways to approach this predicament. For example, it could be a good idea to talk with your loved ones about your estate and try to develop a better idea of how your assets should be split up. If you have a considerable amount of cryptocurrency investments, perhaps a family member who is very familiar with cryptocurrency investing would be a suitable candidate to receive these assets. You may also need to think about how your loved ones will feel about the decisions you make, although it is ultimately up to you to decide what to do with your estate.

Preparing yourself to contest your loved one's will

Your loved one has recently passed away and other family members are beginning the process of executing the deceased's estate plan in Texas. Learning that you were not named in his or her will despite the connection you had to the deceased, as well as the relationship you maintained throughout the years, can be incredibly challenging and saddening. At Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law, we have helped many people prepare for probate. 

If you are dissatisfied with the fact that you have not been named in the will and would like to contest the terms and conditions outlined in the will, you can certainly do so. Forbes describes several critical tips to give yourself the best chance at having a successful outcome as you continue through probate. One of the challenges you may face is the necessity to make decisions in a timely manner. Procrastinating or taking too long to reach an agreement on certain factors will only prolong the process and may compromise your ability to have a say in what happens. 

Where does the debt go when someone passes away?

It is a simple fact that most people in America have debt. With any luck they will be able to drive the amount down over the years, but sometimes that is not the case. It is a reality that when a person passes away their debt must go somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere is their loved ones.

When someone passes away all their debts and assets become their "estate". Probate is then the process in which a person acting on the deceased's behalf - their executor - settles all their debts. This is what happens when the estate's assets cannot cover a few key debts.

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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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