Thinking about the estate planning process is not high on many people's to-do lists. It can be difficult to start a conversation about what you want to happen after you pass. However, having a will in place is important when you have certain wishes or desires that you want to be taken into account after death. While we have discussed the benefits of having a will in place, it is also important to have a better understanding of these documents.
What Do Wills Do?
Wills are documents that describe how you want your property distributed or delegated after death. In most cases, you can decide how you want to dispose of your property according to your exact wishes. However, states also will occasionally have guidelines and stipulations on inheritors. In Texas, as long as you have a will in place, it will almost always be executed according to the wishes of the passed individual. This means that any named executors and inheritors must act according to those wishes.
What Can Wills Not Do?
However, there are limitations to a will. Not all assets are transferable by a will. For example, any property that you held in joint ownership, such as a shared home with your spouse, cannot be transferred if your spouse is still living. This also includes properties that have been delegated in a living trust. Specific arrangements, such as funeral instructions are also best left out of a will. Instead, there should be a separate document that lays out how funeral proceedings should take place.
Making Sure A Will Is Valid
It is important to meet the requirements of a valid will for estate planning. First, you must have the legal capacity to create a will. This means that you must be 18 or older, have been married at some point, or be an active member of the armed forces. When writing a will, you must also have a sound mind. This means that you have the mental capabilities to understand the purpose of a will and that you are delegating your property. It is important to also know that a will must be signed in order to be valid.
When There Is No Will
It isn’t uncommon for individuals to pass without a will. This process is known as intestate. While the courts have a process for handling an estate without a will, it does not go as smoothly as the normal probate process. Furthermore, there is more room for disagreements among your family members and potential beneficiaries when there is not a will in place and therefore,. your estate is left up to the discretion of the courts.
It is also imperative for parents to establish a will so there are specific instructions for executors to follow in regards to care for children, pets, and any other responsibilities.
How To Start The Process
Starting a will can feel like an overwhelming task. However, you can have guidance throughout the process. First, you can find an estate planning attorney who will advise you on writing your will. The team at James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C. is experienced with estate planning in Texas and can provide you with the advice you need to write a valid and sound will. While you are creating your working document, consider potential beneficiaries and executors that will be included. Be as specific as you possibly can, as that can help reduce the potential for conflicts among family members down the line. Know that no matter when you work on your will, you can always revisit it and update it when circumstances change.
When you are ready to get started on your will, James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C. can help.
Contact us now at (940) 310-6122 so that our dedicated Denton estate planning lawyers can help you and your family prepare.