Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Estate Planning
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Thinking about what will happen to your estate once you are gone is never easy, and Texas estate planning laws don’t make it any easier. We know you might have questions about estate planning, so we’ve answered some of the most common ones below:
Q: How Do I Get Started?
You can start creating your estate plan today by contacting The J.D. Wilson Law Firm at (512) 355-1161 or online.
Q: Why Is Estate Planning Important for All Adults?
A: Estate planning is the only way you can communicate your final wishes to the authorities who have the power to enforce them. It is also extremely beneficial for your heirs, beneficiaries, and loved ones.
Without an estate plan, your loved ones will be forced to make a series of uncomfortable decisions during an already difficult time, and they may have to wait years to receive your assets.
If you have significant assets, you should make an estate plan, so you have the last say about your assets instead of the courts.
If you do not have significant assets, you should make an estate plan, so the money you do have gets to your loved ones as quickly as possible. This can help with funeral and burial expenses and make it easier for the people you care about to settle your final affairs.
Q: What Is Power of Attorney?
A: Power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives one person the power to act for another or handle someone else’s finances. Durable POA aids people in times of incapacity and allows your loved ones to make legal, financial, or healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.
Make sure to keep your POA documents updated, as some institutions will not accept older POA in Texas.
Q: What Is a Living Will?
A: Despite the name, a living will has little to do with your last will and testament. Also called an advance healthcare directive or an Advance Directive to Physicians, a living will allows you to communicate your wishes for medical treatment on paper in case you cannot do it in person (usually due to a terminal illness or irreversible condition). A do-not-resuscitate order is an example of a living will.
Q: What Is a Trust?
A: A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which one party (the trustor) gives another party (the trustee) the right to look after important assets for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). If you want to leave behind conditional gifts, you can do so with a trust. Trusts also give you more control over how and when your assets are distributed, and in some cases, help you avoid taxes and processing delays.
The rules for setting up a trust in Texas can be complicated, so be sure to ask an attorney for help.
Q: What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
A: If you don’t have a will, your assets will be decided by state statutes via intestate succession. This can create conflict and confusion among your surviving loved ones and lead to decisions you may not have agreed with. If you want your final wishes to be communicated and followed, you need a will!
Q: What Is a Last Will and Testament?
A: A last will and testament, or simply a will is a legal document that outlines your final wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after your death. If you have minor children, you can also use your will to spell out your wishes concerning their care. You should also name an executor in your will, so the court knows who will be in charge of carrying out your final wishes.
Q: What Is Probate?
A: Probate is the court-supervised process used to authenticate your will (if you have one) and settle your estate after you die. The probate process includes inventorying and appraising a decedent’s assets, paying their debts and taxes, and distributing their assets to heirs and beneficiaries.