Fear of dealing with an attorney is often a significant hurdle when it comes down to having a will—or an entire estate plan—prepared. Many people feel the attorney will think they are uninformed or unsophisticated. Others may fear they will not understand the process, particularly the financial aspect, and will end up paying more than they can afford.
At Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC, we believe that the key to overcoming these fears is finding the right lawyer. As with any important decision, it is always good to do your research. You will find our staff to be understanding and helpful to you throughout this process.
We would like to have you discuss your estate planning issues with an attorney from our firm. While the process of making a will may seem relatively simple, there are many state laws that direct how the procedures must be navigated. Our highly experienced estate planning attorneys will ensure you receive a will (or entire estate plan) that is tailored precisely to your unique life circumstances, and that there will be no surprises as far as cost.
Do You Need a Will?
When you create a last will and testament, you are laying out a plan for the desired distribution of your assets after your death. A valid Texas will will provide you the opportunity to make arrangements to distribute your property and other assets to your spouse, your children, other loved ones, or charities, rather than allowing the state of Texas to make those decisions for you. While most adults are aware they need at least some level of estate planning, according to Forbes, as many as 51 percent of individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 do not have a will, and 62 percent of individuals between the ages of 45-54 do not have a will.
Those who die with no type of estate plan in place might be dismayed to find that individuals they would never want to inherit their assets could do so under Texas intestacy laws. Further, if you have young children and you die with no will in place, the state of Texas will also choose a guardian for the children—and the guardian the state chooses might be a person you would never want to raise your children. If you do not want to leave these incredibly important decisions up to the state of Texas, then it is time to have a will drafted, or perhaps even consider a comprehensive estate plan. There are different types of wills, including:
- Simple Will—This is a basic will for those with a relatively small estate with few expected complications. A simple will allows you to leave your assets to those you choose, names a guardian for your minor children, and names an executor (a person who will ensure your wishes are properly followed and who will handle the probate process).
- Testamentary Trust—Often wills are drawn up that upon death or some or all of the estate will pass into a trust for the benefit of someone, such as a child or disabled person, to be managed by a trustee and benefits paid to or on behalf of the beneficiary as stated in the paperwork.
What Can a Will Not Do?
There are many important things a will can do, however, there are also some things a will cannot do, such as:
- A will does not help your loved ones avoid probate;
- A will does not change the beneficiaries of property held in banks or other assets that have a beneficiary designation;
- A will has no control over any assets transferred to a living trust;
- A will has no bearing on a named life insurance beneficiary;
- IRAs, 401(k) programs and other retirement programs do not go through your will; unless specifically designated with the program;
- Certain stocks and bonds will not go through your will;
- Payable-on-Death bank accounts will not go through your will;
- No money may be designated in your will for any type of illegal purpose;
- The long-term care of a loved one cannot be provided for in your will, except by testamentary trust, and
- You may not leave money to your pets in your will, although you can leave your pet to the person you choose, then provide money to that person for the care of the pet.
It is also worth mentioning that you might want to leave a separate document, apart from your will, that details your wishes as far as your funeral arrangements, memorial service arrangements, and disposition of your body. The reason for this is due to the fact that wills are often not read until weeks after the funeral. As you can see, while a will has many good benefits, there are certain drawbacks that can be addressed with a trust or other estate planning document.
Speak to an Experienced Texas Wills Lawyer Today
When it comes time for you to make a will, or consider an entire estate plan, you want the most experienced, most knowledgeable Texas estate planning lawyer to guide you through the process. At Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC we realize it can be a stressful experience to engage in estate planning, and we strive to make it as easy as possible. Our Arlington, Texas estate planning attorneys are highly skilled in all aspects of estate planning and can help you plan for your future. Contact Jackson, Landrith & Kulesz, PC today for exemplary Texas estate planning services.