Believe it or not, you have an estate, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— from your home, your car, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions, and any other real estate. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common— you need a plan in case something happens to you.
The process of estate planning can be complicated; however, with well-thought-out and careful planning, you can ensure that your family is protected and upon your passing, your wishes will be carried out. It’s normal to have many questions, especially if you are not familiar with estate law. Here are some common questions about estate planning and the answers, so you know what to expect and how to proceed with your estate plan.
Can I Prepare a Will on My Own?
The short answer is yes. However, there are many estate laws that you will need to know if you decide to create a will on your own. You’ll want to ensure that your assets are protected and that the intended beneficiaries are adequately included in your will in the event of your death or incapacitation. Here are some things that you need to consider when preparing a will:
Creating a will requires you to research and understand Texas estate laws. Not fully understanding wills and estates can put big holes in your estate plan and leave you open to errors that could pose a problem for your beneficiaries. It’s essential to ensure that after you create your will that it is written in a way that is legally binding. While many websites offer do-it-yourself estate planning, it’s always in your best interest to consult an estate attorney before moving forward with planning your will.
Common Mistakes with DIY Wills
While everyone wants to save money, making mistakes by trying to draw up your own will can actually be more costly to you in the long run. The following are the most common errors with DIY wills:
- Not having proper witnessing
- Failure to use appropriate legal verbiage
- Failure to correctly will foreign assets and properties to beneficiaries
- Not fully comprehending how inheritance tax will impact an estate plan
When it comes to planning a will, procrastinating the start of drafting is also one of the major mistakes people make. Contacting an estate attorney to assist you with your will and estate plan as soon as possible is essential to relieving any stress on your family should they have to get a plan in order at the last minute.
What’s the Difference Between a Will and Revocable Living Trust?
Depending on your estate planning needs and goals, there are benefits to both a will and revocable living trust. Both wills and revocable living trusts can do the following:
- Name beneficiaries
- Leave property to children
- Revise the document at any time
Here are some of the different features of a will and revocable living trust:
- Appoint guardians for children
- Appoint managers of children’s property
- Appoint an executor
- Outline how debts and taxes should be paid
Revocable Living Trust
- Probate avoidance
- Can keep your privacy after death
- Trustees can receive assets quickly without legal fees that tap into inheritance.
- Avoid guardianship/ conservatorship - should you become mentally incapacitated, a revocable living trust can avoid court-appointed conservatorship. You can name someone you trust to take care of you and personal affairs without interference.
Why Do I Need an Estate Attorney?
Having an estate attorney assist you with your will and other aspects of your estate plan can make all the difference when it comes time for execution. An experienced estate attorney will ask all the proper questions needed to tailor an estate plan that is specific to your needs. An attorney well-versed in estate law can also take a look at your estate as a whole to determine any potential problems and create a plan that can help avoid them. An estate attorney can help you with the following:
- International estate planning
- Avoid probate
- Elder law
- Business formation
- Resolve complex real estate issues
Estate planning and having a will in place can give you and your family peace of mind in protecting your assets. For all your estate planning needs, Contact Auten & Willingham, P.C. today at (214) 643-8757 to learn more about your options and how to get started.