At least once a week I hear someone say “I’ll make a Will some day.” But as one month leads into the next, they never make the time to create this important document. All of us hope that we will have some warning before we pass away and will be able to dash to the probate attorney’s office to make the arrangements, but the reality is that none of us know what the future holds and no one knows exactly when our time is up. Most people assume they will grow old and die of natural causes at an advanced age. However, the reality of the situation is that many people die prematurely as the result of any number of reasons.
Some folks think they are too young to need to worry about such things. But if you are married with young children, you should consider what happens to your children and any assets for their care if you and your spouse were to die prematurely in a car or plane crash. These things happen more often than you would think.
By having a Will prepared you are taking the opportunity for reflective asset protection before and after your death.
Putting together a Will or a Physician’s Directive or a Living Will or Powers of Attorney are not as time-consuming and expensive as you might expect. Now is the time to protect the people you love and make your wishes known. Do you want to be kept alive on life support if you are just being kept alive by machines? Make your wishes known now, while you can voice them.
If you were unable to make medical decisions for yourself, wouldn’t it be good if you had already designated someone that loves you to make those medical decisions in your best interests according to your wishes?
What about your minor children? If something happened to you and your spouse, what is to become of your minor children? With a Will you can designate who will be their legal guardians and also who is to be the trustee of the trust to be set up to provide for their financial well being.
If you are no longer married to your children’s other parent, you can designate someone else (not your ex-spouse) to be the trustee of the children’s trust account and to manager their inheritance until they reach a certain age that you determine.
Do you own real estate, a motor vehicle, anything with a deed or a title? What about bank accounts? C.D.’s? Brokerage accounts? These are all things that will need to pass through probate. Not having a Last Will and Testament causes your loved ones real problems because they need a Will to obtain “Letters Testamentary” which is the document authorizing the transfer of titles and deeds and such out of your name and into theirs.
Personalized Estate Planning
Making a Will is a very personal matter. As your probate lawyer, I will work directly with you every step of the way to make sure that your wishes are followed. To see that your children are provided for and the documents provide for your wishes in such a manner that they will be legally carried out. A Texas Will is extremely important if you wish to have a say in how your estate is distributed.
Together, we will draft a Last Will and Testament that addresses everything. We will name your “executor” (the person who will be responsible for administering your Will) and decide who will receive your estate. If you own property at the time of your death, your Will can give the executor the ability to sell the home if necessary (or transfer title to your beneficiaries). Your Will can give the necessary people access to your bank accounts. Your Will can name the guardians for your minor children and provide trusts for those children. We can also make special provisions in your Will for special bequests in order to give specific mementos to those friends or distant relatives to let them know how you felt about them. Texas probate law provides for a multitude of scenarios following someone’s demise.
You may have a situation where a loved one has already passed away and left no Will. There are other ways of dealing with these situations such as a Small Estate Affidavit, Determination of Hiership, and Dependent Administrations.
Michael L. Holland Attorney At Law
2211 Norfolk St Suite 1105 Houston TX 77098