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What to Know About Creating a Will
McKinney Will Attorney to Help You Provide for Your Family
Whether you are in your twenties or your nineties, whether you are married or single, whether you have children or not, it is a good idea to have a will. Estate planning is in many ways about preparing for the unexpected; and, if you do not have an estate plan, your family members will face unnecessary expenses and likely some extremely-challenging decisions should you die or become incapacitated. By speaking with a McKinney will attorney at our firm, we can make sure all of your bases are covered -- even the ones you may not have thought of.
The Many Reasons to Create a Will
While there are several different estate planning tools available – each serving its own unique purpose and each with its own unique benefits and limitations – the will remains a foundational component of most modern estate plans. So, if you do not have a will, here are five reasons to speak with an estate planning lawyer about putting one in place:
1. A Will Lets You Control the Distribution of Your Assets After Death
Without a will, once your creditors and your probate, funeral and burial expenses have been paid, your remaining assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. These laws are designed to apply to everyone, and this means that they rarely (if ever) truly reflect anyone’s final wishes. Additionally, while these laws designate certain heirs to receive certain percentages of a decedent’s property, they do not actually specify who gets what. As a result, legal disputes are common, and the financial and emotional costs of probate litigation can be substantial.
2. A Will Can Help Minimize the Costs and Taxes Resulting from Estate Administration
Regardless of whether you die with or without a will, your family will need to deal with the probate process. However, having a will can substantially reduce the time and costs involved. With a will, you can also plan the distribution of your estate in order to minimize tax liability, and this can result in significant savings for your surviving family members.
3. A Will Lets You Decide Who Will Care for Your Minor Children
If you have children, or if you may have children in the future, another key reason to have a will is that it allows you to designate a guardian to care for your children until they reach age 18. Establishing guardianship through the courts can be a costly and emotionally-charged process, and it is something from which most people want to protect their loved ones if at all possible.
4. A Will Lets You Decide Who Will Manage Your Final Affairs
When you die, someone needs to manage your final affairs. You can select this person in your will. If you do not select a personal representative, the probate court will need to appoint one for you, and this is yet another process that involves unnecessary costs and the potential for litigation.
5. A Will Can Provide Certainty and Closure for Your Loved Ones
In summary, a will provides much-needed certainty and closure for your loved ones. By setting out your final wishes in a plan that is easy to follow, you are protecting your family members from costly and challenging circumstances in which they must try to guess what you would have wanted. The benefits of having a will are substantial, and they are only outweighed by the costs of choosing not to plan for the future.
Our McKinney Will Attorney Explains What Will Be Included in Your Will
So, now that you are ready to get started, what’s next? Here is a list of some of the information you will want to discuss with knowledgeable McKinney estate planning lawyers:
1. Intended Beneficiaries
Who do you want to own your property after your death? This is one of the most basic questions involved in estate planning; and, for many people, it is also one of the most challenging. Knowing how you wish to distribute your estate will be essential to preparing your will, and it will help determine if you should incorporate a trust into your estate plan.
2. Backup Beneficiaries
When putting together an estate plan, it is always a good idea to include a contingency plan. While you can always modify your estate plan later, identifying backup beneficiaries in your will (in case one of your primary beneficiaries dies during your lifetime) can help you avoid revisiting your estate plan earlier than necessary.
3. Personal Representative (and Backup)
Your personal representative is the person who will be responsible for administering your estate after your death. If you do not appoint a personal representative, the probate court will need to appoint one on your behalf. Like naming your beneficiaries, when naming your personal representative, it is a good idea to name a backup as well.
4. Distribution of Your Assets
In addition to identifying your intended beneficiaries, you also need to decide who gets what. If you only specify percentages (i.e. each child should receive half of your estate), this will be setting your loved ones up for uncertainty – and potential disputes – during the estate administration process.
5. Charitable Goals
If you have any philanthropic aspirations, you should discuss these with your attorney as well. There are several ways to incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan, and your attorney will be able to help you select an option that provides maximal charitable and tax-savings benefits.
6. Guardianship of Your Minor Children
If you have minor children, appointing a guardian in your estate plan will allow your family to avoid the process of seeking to appoint a guardian in Texas court. It is important to make sure your desired guardian is willing to serve in the role, and you may want to consider providing financial support for your guardian in your estate plan (i.e. to help cover his or her monthly living expenses) as well.
7. Healthcare and Financial Management Surrogates Can Also be Discussed with a Will Lawyer
Finally, who should manage your finances and make decisions regarding your medical care should you become unable to do so? Once again, making these types of decisions now will help protect your loved ones from facing difficult questions down the road.
Contact a McKinney Will Attorney for a Consultation Today
If you would like to speak with a McKinney will attorney about preparing your will, you can contact our Texas law offices to schedule a free estate planning consultation. Please call (214) 726-1450, or send us your information online and we will be in touch as soon as possible.