What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of determining how your belongings and assets will be divided and distributed after your death or in the case of incapacitation. Estate planning isn’t just for wealthy people — and it’s never too early to start planning your estate.
Keep reading to learn more about how to start the estate planning process and how our attorneys at James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C. can help.
When Should I Create My Estate Plan?
As mentioned earlier, there isn’t a wrong time to plan your estate. Planning how you’d like your assets handled after your death may seem like a solemn task, but it will actually help your family to have this plan in the long run. Whether you’re a married couple or a single person, you can craft your estate plan and revise it as you see fit.
Planning Your Estate
If you’re starting the estate planning process, here are some essential things to consider:
What’s Included in an Estate?
Estate plans consist of important documents that we can create on your behalf, including:
Also known as a testament, a will describes how you want your property to be distributed after you die and appoints an executor to ensure your final wishes are honored. A will goes into effect after your passing.
Living & Revocable Trusts
Similar to a will, a living revocable trust describes the transfer of your assets, including who gets what. A living revocable trust becomes effective immediately but can be changed.
Medical and Durable Powers of Attorney (POA)
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone the authority to act in your place. If you become incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions, a durable POA makes important financial, legal, and business decisions for you.
Suppose you cannot take care of yourself and have minor children, your guardian steps in. In these situations, you lose your legal rights, and instead, your guardian gets legal rights to manage your person and estate.
If you have minor children, meaning children under 18, appointing a guardian to take care of them and act in your place is a challenging yet essential decision. You must protect your children’s best interests by planning who will “parent” them when you no longer can, whether it’s due to incapacitation or death.
How Can I Start Planning?
When it comes to deciding how your properties, savings, and other investments will be split, there are a few easy steps to take:
- Take an inventory of your assets and properties.
- Consider your family’s needs — future or present.
- Include necessary directives — such as a trust, power of attorney, and medical care directives.
- Review who your beneficiaries are.
- Consider hiring an attorney to help manage your estate.
Can an Attorney Help Me Plan My Estate?
An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you sort your assets and make sure everything is accounted for. At James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C., we know this process can be emotional, which is why we help clients preserve and protect their assets and property by creating valid estate planning documents that withstand legal challenges.
Our experienced estate planning attorneys can devise several documents, regardless of the size of your estate. However, when you have a large estate and property holdings, you need more complex planning, which we highly recommend handling with our firm's help.
Your Estate and the Probate Process in Texas
After a loved one passes away, their estate will go into probate in order to distribute these possessions. During probate, the court will legally recognize a person’s death, oversee the payment of their debts, and rule on the distribution of his or her estate and assets.
If your loved one had a drafted will, the named executor of that will must file for probate — typically within four years of the decedent’s death.
How Long Will Probate Take?
For simple and straightforward estates, the court should have a resolution within six months. However, if the original will cannot be located or the will is contested, the process can take up to a year. If a will is contested, a friend or family member can argue the terms of the will with the court for a new resolution.
Estate Planning Attorneys in Denton
At James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C., our estate planning, and probate lawyers are very familiar with all local, state, and federal court systems, and we are licensed to practice in courtrooms across Texas. Thus, we have the competence and qualifications needed to help you carry out your loved one’s wishes as seamlessly as possible.
Our attorneys have over 60 years of combined experience representing clients in their legal matters, including estate planning. We urge you to reach out to our probate attorneys at (940) 310-6122 to get started on resolving your situation right away or contact us online.