Many people consider death to be a morbid or unsettling topic, leading them to avoid considering the various estate planning options available in Texas. However, there are many reasons that you should take a second look. Without the basic structures in place, you lose control over what happens to your assets upon your passing. State law steps in related to the handling of your final affairs, which may lead to an arrangement that directly contradicts your intentions. Plus, contrary to popular thought, not all estate planning documents take effect at death. Some of the most important components are intended to provide for your medical and financial interests in the event of incapacity.
With these thoughts in mind, it’s important to retain experienced legal counsel to review your circumstances and advise you on an estate plan that works for your specific needs. Our team at Hargrave Law, PC is prepared to guide you through the process. We have meticulous knowledge of the applicable laws and extensive experience crafting arrangements that best serve your intentions. Please contact our firm to set up a consultation with an estate planning attorney today, and check out some basic information about your options.
Wills and Trusts
The most common and basic component of an estate plan is a will, which may be combined with various forms of trusts to accomplish your goals. However, it’s important to understand the function and benefits of each document.
Your Will: This document carries multiple functions and includes provisions that take effect upon your death. There are certain recommendations on what to include in your will, such as:
- Appointment of an executor who will carry out your intentions as far as your final affairs;
- Naming a successor if your executor cannot or will not act;
- Provisions on specific bequests, in which you designate certain real estate and personal property to beneficiaries;
- Designating who will inherit assets that you have not specified as bequests;
- Appointment of a guardian who will care for minor children, a provision that is subject to court approval; and,
- Naming a guardian who will care for property of your minor children, since they don’t have legal capacity.
Aside from these factors, there are also multiple requirements for will formation under Texas law. For it to be valid, the will must be in writing, signed by you, and the execution must be witnessed by two or more disinterested witnesses.
Trusts in Estate Planning: In a trust, you appoint a trustee to take possession over your assets and manage them in accordance with the provisions you state in the document. While you create a trust during your lifetime, you would typically do so for estate planning purposes to avoid probate at your death. Effectively, you don’t own these assets personally; the trust does. For this reason, your assets don’t go through the probate process.
A living trust typically works in conjunction with a will, which typically will include “pour over” provisions. This term refers to your statement in your will that all assets you own on death will pour over into a trust that you’ve created for such purpose. However, there are other types of trusts you may consider as part of an “integrated” estate plan – i.e., one which functions during your lifetime and extends after your death. Examples include:
- A special needs trust, for grantors who want to provide for a loved one who receives public benefits;
- A Crummey trust, which enables you to make lifetime gifts to “spend down” your estate;
- Irrevocable trusts that can offer benefits for tax purposes; and,
- Many others.
Additional Estate Planning Options to Consider
Besides your will and trust, there are other estate planning arrangements that you can make during your lifetime. Our attorneys at Hargrave Law, PC can explain such options as:
- Power of Attorney, in which you appoint someone to handle your property if you become incapacitated;
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care that names an agent to make medical decisions if you’re unable; and,
- A Living Will, in which you state your wishes regarding end-of-life care.
Discuss Your Objectives with a Texas Estate Planning Lawyer Today
For more information on how we can assist with developing an estate plan that suits your needs and family situation, please contact Hargrave Law, PC. Our process starts by learning about your goals and concerns, followed by drafting essential components. Then, we’ll walk you through the key provisions, and handle the details of execution to ensure they meet the requirements of Texas laws. To get started, please call 817-282-0679 or visit our website to schedule a meeting at our offices in Bedford, Carrollton, or Grapevine, TX.