When Texans think about passing on their assets to others, many wish to keep assets in their family through their i. While they may assume this will automatically occur—and there is no need to create a will or estate plan—this is not necessarily the case. Instead, there are specific actions that individuals should take to ensure their money and property are handed down to the people they actually want to receive it. Otherwise, a probate court judge will have the final decision in who is given the deceased’s assets. Below are some tips and options for Texans who wish to better control where their assets go and ensure they are utilized responsibly.
Drafting a Will
When most people first think about estate planning, they envision drafting a will. And this is one of the most essential and basic estate planning methods, as drafting a will allows individuals to dictate how their assets will be divided after they pass away. However, in Texas, if someone does not have a will in place when they die, their estate will be divided in probate court. There, a judge will decide how the assets are split up—generally, the individual’s closest kin will receive a majority of the assets regardless of the deceased’s feelings toward them. Because of this, it is important to draft a will so Texans can leave their money to their family—or others—according to their actual wishes.
Creating a Trust
Other individuals may hope to keep their assets in their family but worry about how the beneficiaries will utilize the funds. For people like this, it may be wise to create a trust. In setting up a trust, the individual appoints a trustee, who administers the funds according to the purposes specified in the document. Not only does this allow the individual creating the trust to develop terms, but the trustee will also then make sure heirs follow the stipulations if they want to receive the funds.
Additionally, setting up a trust can also provide tax benefits to families wishing to reduce their tax liability. When an individual sets up an irrevocable trust—meaning they can no longer access the funds in the trust and the trustee will distribute the assets—the money is not subject to estate taxes. With the assistance of experienced estate planning attorneys, Texans can even create an irrevocable trust that allows the trustee to dispense the trust’s funds to the beneficiary even when the creator of the trust is still alive.
Another key benefit to setting up a trust is that a properly funded trust can avoid the Texas Probate process altogether. Because estate planning is a complicated process that implicates financial and personal assets, individuals going through this process should contact an estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is in need of estate planning assistance, contact the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Our lawyers have experience in all aspects of estate planning: drafting wills, creating trusts, and recognizing potential pitfalls in current estate plans. We are here to make the estate planning process as easy as possible for you. Call 713-333-8900 to schedule a free, no-strings-attached consultation with one of our attorneys.