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4 Most Common Issues While Preparing an Estate Plan in Houston

Estate planning is essential to help your loved ones if you unexpectedly pass away. Recent events in Texas such as the state’s power grid failure in 2021 or recent rash of mass shootings in 2022 may trigger greater attention to estate planning. An estate lawyer may be essential to help you plan around certain obstacles that might not be obvious until your plan is put into motion following your passing. Here are a few common estate planning issues to consider when preparing your estate:

Stack of Estate Planning DocumentsPlan for Life Before Death 

An effective estate plan should take into account situations where you are still alive but can no longer take care of yourself. One of the biggest setbacks for an estate are underestimated medical bills. For example, you may become involved in an automobile accident that could leave you in a coma or unable to take care of yourself. Estate documents such as an advanced healthcare directive or living will can guide your caregivers and family if you are unable to express your own healthcare wishes upon a debilitating injury.

Divide All Your Available Assets 

To properly give a gift to a family member or friend, both the gift and the beneficiary must be named in your will or trust. If you don’t name a beneficiary in a written will, that beneficiary may not receive your gift. Similarly, if a gift no longer exists, the beneficiary might not receive any gift. For instance, if you give your home to your child, but you sell the house during your lifetime, then your child obviously cannot receive that house. Likewise, your will should be updated after a major life event, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a new child.

Draft Your Will or Trust Correctly

One of the most significant but often ignored issue is ensuring that your will or trust is valid and enforceable. Drafting a will or trust is a futile exercise if a court will not recognize its validity. Fortunately, the legal requirements for writing a will or trust are low compared to some other legal documents.

First, most states require that the testator (the one writing the will) is a legal adult, meaning you must be at least 18 years of age and/or legally married. Second, many states require that a will be signed in the presence of one or two witnesses. Some states permit the use of handwritten or videotaped wills in addition to or in lieu of a witnessed will. Finally, you should check whether your state requires your will to be notarized.

A legal trust has somewhat different legal requirements. A trust is a legal entity in which a person or other entity holds legal title to property for the benefit of others. Generally, the trustor must name a trustee to administrator properties placed in trust for certain beneficiaries. The trustee will then administer or distribute the property for the beneficiaries’ use upon the trustor’s passing.

Managing Your Digital Estate

The internet has lead to an explosion in digital estate planning. Some individuals may have social media accounts that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other persons may possess Bitcoin and other crypto currency that are worth even more. Similarly, many banks, retirement accountants, and other financial institutions are easiest to access through an online account.

Even if a digital property isn’t monetarily valuable, they may still hold emotional significance. Digital photographs or social media postings on social media or email may impact how family, friends, or the public view a person after they are gone. In these situations, it is important to keep digital information, such as banking or social media logins, in a secure but accessible location for executors, trustees, and/or beneficiaries to reach.

Do I Need An Attorney For Estate Planning in Houston, Texas?

If you are considering establishing an estate plan, you should consult with a skilled estate lawyer in Houston. Since estate planning is contingent upon your state’s laws, it is important to work with a local attorney in Texas so that you receive the most accurate legal advice regarding your estate. A skilled estate lawyer can help organize your estate, answer any of your questions, and help you determine what is essential to your estate planning based on your specific needs.


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