Whether you are young or old, married or unmarried, parenting or childfree, you need a will. A will is a basic courtesy to the loved ones left behind after someone’s passing. Even for people with minimal assets, a will is an appropriate Houston estate planning tool to ensure that any final wishes will be honored and to ease the burden on family and friends of making final arrangements.
Moreover, in Texas, when someone dies without a will, the state decides who gets the deceased individual’s assets, with zero regard to what may be obvious personal preferences. The operation of this law has led to countless unfortunate outcomes, such as estranged spouses getting the entirety of an estate that should have gone to the deceased spouse’s children.
For these reasons, it is important to write and then maintain an updated will from the time one enters adulthood. Fortunately, writing a will need not be a complicated nor burdensome process. For many people, a basic will drafted online or with a lawyer at an affordable rate will suffice.
Here are four steps one could follow when writing a will:
Pick an executor
First, determine who your executor will be. The executor of an estate is the personal representative identified in a will and is the person who will be in charge of carrying out the will.
An executor must be trustworthy, competent, and fair. Before making your final selection, it is important to speak with the person you intend to appoint to ensure they are willing to fulfill this important role.
Compile a list of your assets
The next step is to create a complete list of your assets. Taking an inventory of what you have and what you owe will ensure that your will is as thorough as possible. Be sure to include assets such as real estate, bank accounts, retirement and investment accounts, stocks, and life-insurance policies in your list. Store this list along with any supporting information or documentation in a secure place which is known to someone you trust, like the intended executor of your estate, for example.
Decide what is important
Your third step is to decide how you would like your assets to be divided. Would you like your assets to pass entirely to family? To charity? Or perhaps a combination?
Taking a macro look at your assets, family, friends, and the causes you support will help you to begin to conceptualize your will.
Make a plan to write your will
Finally, once you have identified an executor, compiled an asset list, and reflected on your personal values and wishes for your assets, you are likely ready to write your will.
Hiring a lawyer is often recommended because the formalities of will writing can be pretty complex. When you write your own will without any support from an attorney, you run the risk of making mistakes that could result in the will being unenforceable.
If you do not want to hire a lawyer, consider instead using a fill-in-the-blank style will, which are widely available online. In this scenario, you could also consider hiring a lawyer to review your draft for completeness and formalities.
Consult a Houston Estate Planning Lawyer Today
If you currently lack a will or your existing will could use some updating, contact the Houston estate planning team at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC today. Whether your estate is large or more modest, our attorneys can help you sort out your final wishes for your assets and translate those wishes into an enforceable will. Our attorneys have multiple decades of experience in crafting effective estate plans expertly tailored to client needs. To schedule your consultation with a Texas estate planning attorney, call 713-333-8900 today.