Planning your estate and the management of your assets after you pass away can be an uncomfortable and overwhelming process, however, it does not need to be as complicated as you may expect. Once an effective estate plan is in order, you and your family members can rest easy knowing that your wishes will be honored and that unnecessary conflict, expense, and taxation can be avoided. Taking certain steps now in planning your estate will prevent complications down the road.
Before setting up any trusts or even drafting a will, people interested in making an estate plan can gather most of the needed documents on their own, in order to streamline the process going forward. Important documents include property deeds, insurance contact information, vehicle titles, marriage and birth certificates, and financial account information. These documents should be stored in a safe and easy-to-find place for loved ones to access later.
Most Important Estate Planning Documents
Preparing and executing a last will and testament is probably the most important part of your estate plan. A will details how assets and properties will be distributed upon your death. Without a valid will, the state of residence will revert to intestate laws of distribution, which most likely will not coincide with your actual wishes. Be sure to draft a written will that is executed in the presence of witnesses and names an executor of the estate to distribute your assets upon death.
You may also want to draft a living will, which is also known as an advance directive. This document gives the right to make medical decisions to another in the event that you are incapacitated or seriously ill. If you do not desire the expense and emotional hardship that can result from end-of-life medical treatment, you can create a living will with the help of an attorney to give a trusted loved one the right to make end-of-life decisions and avoid potentially futile and painful medical care.
In addition to your last will and testament, you may want to prepare a living trust that allows you to control certain trust assets during your life and then pass them directly to the beneficiaries without going through the probate process. Keeping assets in an irrevocable trust can also help you protect your families’ inheritances from creditors who may sue your estate to collect alleged debts.
Funeral wishes may or may not be known to your loved ones, but if you desire a certain kind of funeral or lack thereof upon your death, you can include such wishes in your will and your family will be bound to abide by them. Advance planning of a funeral can avoid conflict and the emotional burden that family members face upon the death of a loved one.
Employ the Services of a Qualified Houston Estate Planning Attorney
The Houston trusts and estate attorneys at McCulloch & Miller understand the stress and discomfort facing Texas families in making end-of-life plans. Our honest and compassionate attorneys will advise and assist you and your loved ones to make a plan that meets your desires, both financial and otherwise. Our Houston lawyers have years of experience in estate planning and are here to assist you in making essential decisions to be sure your family and loved ones are taken care of for years to come. Contact our office at 713-333-8900 to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney on our team.