The will is the most well-known tool in estate planning, and it is often clients’ first choice for how to make sure their assets are transferred to loved ones after their death. The will can be useful in that it allows individuals to provide detailed instructions for their beneficiaries, and clients are generally grateful to have the opportunity to leave a thoughtful, specific document that coordinates the distribution of their assets for the ones they leave behind.
It is imperative to recognize, however, that wills do have disadvantages, and it is important to explore the limitations of wills alongside their benefits. Of note, anyone that wants to contest a will has exactly two years to do so, or else the will becomes unalterable. When a person dies, their will is submitted to probate, which means the court takes charge of the process of distributing their assets according to their wishes. From the day the will is submitted to probate, any potential challenger to a will has exactly two years to file with the court and contest that will’s validity.
The second obvious disadvantage to a will is that it requires the decedent’s property to go through the probate process. At times, this process can be long, drawn out, and contentious. Courts are charged with interpreting the terms of each person’s will, and there is no guarantee that the court will distribute assets exactly as the decedent intended if there is even one ambiguous phrase in the will.
Thirdly, a will is not effective until it is submitted to probate. Depending on how quickly things are moving, it can take months after a person’s death for their will to be sent to the probate courts. Meanwhile, beneficiaries are left waiting to receive the money or property they are set to inherit from the will.
When done correctly, wills can be helpful for individuals as they make long-term plans. Wills also, however, leave a certain element up to chance since the probate court ultimately has control over how the decedent’s property is distributed. To learn more about the nuances of the will, the best thing you can do for yourself is to contact an attorney so that you can understand which estate planning tools might be right for you.
Do You Have an Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
It is never too early to start making your estate plans, and at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, we specialize in making sure our clients’ plans are written, formalized, and executed in a way that achieves their individualized goals. Every client is different, and we take pride in taking the time to get to know each client so that they can rest assured their legal needs are being met. If you have not yet retained a Houston estate planning attorney to help you make long-term plans, give us a call today at 713-955-7281. We offer flat fees and a holistic approach to your estate planning process. You can also fill out our online form to set up a consultation with us.