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Our Collin County Estate Planning Attorney Explains What You Need to Know

A Collin County estate planning attorney at The Nordhaus Firm can tell you that no matter your age, marital status, or station in life, you can benefit from basic estate planning.  Estate planning involves developing a plan for how your property, debts, and other matters will be handled following your death.

The Creation of a Will

In most cases, a will is the primary document that expresses your wishes after death. A will can contain provisions regarding a number of important issues, including the following:

  • Distribution of your property and assets
  • Appointment of a guardian for your minor children
  • Preserving the relationships between your surviving family members
  • Funeral and burial arrangements
  • Payment of your debts

If you do not execute a will and make specific provisions for these important issues, then state law will govern the decisions regarding these issues. This means that your property may not be distributed to the people or in the manner that you would choose.  It may also mean that you would have no say in the custody of your children in the event of your untimely death, and foster care is the leading result.

In Texas, if you have children from a previous marriage and fail to properly name your current spouse as beneficiary of your joint owned homestead, your surviving spouse will face the reality of becoming a joint owner in his or her homestead with your children from the previous marriage, or worse, potentially obtain no ownership in the home.   As your Collin County estate planning attorney knows, failing to take necessary action to protect yourself and your family can cause devastating consequences for your loved ones, both emotionally and financially.

Failing to create a comprehensive estate plan can also result in significant financial burdens for your surviving family members. Without a properly drafted will, court appointed intervention is typically necessary in order to administer your estate, causing your family to pay even more in legal fees for court appointed attorneys.  Even if you have executed a will, court intervention may be necessary if the will does not address certain issues. Resorting to the court may cost your family additional time and money in attorney’s fees, court costs, and taxes.

Tax Planning in Texas

Taxes are a significant concern for surviving family members. If you own significant assets or property, your will may automatically be subject to probate or court proceedings, as well as certain estate taxes. A Collin County estate planning attorney at The Nordhaus Firm can help you develop an individualized estate plan that most effectively minimizes your estate tax liabilities, and preserves your wealth for your loved ones instead of the IRS.

Deciding to Form a Trust

Trusts can also provide numerous planning benefits and are commonly integrated into the estate plans by our Collin County estate planning lawyers. Trusts not only serve as a great tax-minimizing tool (when used in the correct fashion), but they are also an excellent vehicle that allows you to distribute property directly to your family members in the amounts and manner that you choose, thereby preventing early and unrestricted access by young or irresponsible beneficiaries.  Certain trusts can also prevent the necessity of court intervention after your death.  This better positions your family members to deal with the grief instead of being burdened with unnecessary court involvement, legal fees and family feuds due to a lack of planning.  Therefore, utilizing trusts in conjunction with with a will in your estate plan can help decrease taxes, attorney’s fees, and other normal costs of probate administration.

Our Collin County Estate Planning Attorney Debunks Estate Planning Myths

Myth #1: You Don’t Need an Estate Plan if You are Single

The truth is that single people have just as much reason – if not more – to prepare estate plans as spouses and life partners. If you get injured or sick and are unable to manage your finances or communicate with your doctor, your estate plan will provide guidance and dictate who can make decisions on your behalf. When you die, your estate plan will mitigate any potential tax liability while ensuring that the assets you leave behind go to the individual(s) of your choosing.

Myth #2: You Don’t Need an Estate Plan if You are in Your 20s or 30s (Especially if You Don’t Have Children)

Accidents and unexpected illnesses can – and do – happen. If something were to happen to you, who would take care of you, and how would your loved ones know where to find your assets (including your brokerage accounts, online savings accounts, cryptocurrency wallets, and other digital assets)? Estate planning serves a number of critical purposes regardless of your age.

Myth #3: It is Easy and Cost-Effective to Buy an Estate Plan Online

For most people, buying an estate plan online is a mistake. Not only are these minimally-customizable plans often non-compliant with state-specific requirements, but they also rarely provide the protections and outcomes that people truly desire. If your estate plan is not legally-enforceable (or raises serious questions about its enforceability) and does not truly reflect your final wishes, it may end up doing more harm than good.

Myth #4: You Cannot (or Should Not) Modify Your Estate Plan

You can always modify your estate plan, as long as you are legally competent to do so (i.e. you have not being diagnosed with an incapacitating illness or injury). While you should try to think ahead to the extent that you can, if and when circumstances (or your final wishes) change, you can update your estate plan accordingly.

Myth #5: Hiring a Collin County Estate Planning Lawyer is Expensive

While hiring an estate planning lawyer can be somewhat of an investment if you have a sizeable estate and complex estate planning goals (such as establishing multiple types of trusts or leaving a substantial gift to charity), for most people, hiring a lawyer is very affordable. When you factor in the savings you can achieve in terms of avoiding unnecessary taxes and protecting your loved ones from contentious (and expensive) estate-related disputes, hiring an attorney is usually well worth the modest cost involved.

Contact an Experienced Collin County Estate Planning Attorney

A Collin County estate planning attorney from our firm will meet with you to assess and evaluate your current financial and family situation and develop a comprehensive estate plan that is customized to your family’s needs and wishes. Contact our office at (214) 726-1450 to schedule an appointment with April Nordhaus today.

While our primary office is located in McKinney, Texas, The Nordhaus Firm provides legal representation to residents in the Allen, Frisco, Prosper, and entire Collin County area.