You’ve probably held off creating an estate plan for many reasons. I’m young, I don’t need to worry about that yet. It’s depressing to think about that stuff. I don’t have the time. It costs too much money. I don’t have that many assets and I just want everything to go to my spouse, I don’t need a will. However, most of these excuses are exactly the reasons you should make the time and the investment into your estate plan.
When a person dies without a will in Texas, they are said to die intestate, and the distribution of his or her estate will be done according to the state created intestacy laws. In some instances, the provided distribution scheme may align to how you would like your property to be distributed upon your death. However, the laws will likely not provide for certain family members, such as children from a previous marriage or step children, in the way that you would prefer. A will allows you complete control and discretion over how your property will be distributed and gives you peace of mind that your family members are being adequately provided for in the event that you are no longer able to do so.
Preparing a will can also alleviate a lot of stress from your family after you pass away. Your will tells them exactly how you want your property to be distributed, whether that be to individuals, trusts, or charitable organizations. The probate process can cause tension and arguments even amongst the strongest and amicable families, and a well drafted will can prevent uncertainty and arguments.
Additionally, working with an attorney to prepare your estate plan can ensure that you take advantage of the mechanisms that Texas law has in place to make the probate process less cumbersome and less expensive for your family. Texas allows for independent administration of a will, which means that once a will is admitted to probate and the executor is recognized by the court, the executor is free to carry out his or duties under your will without court approval or intervention every step of the way. However, you must elect to have an independent administration in your will, it is not the default process under the law to probate a will. So, even if you feel that you do not have many assets that need to be transferred to someone else upon your death, the probate process can be cumbersome and costly if you do not plan ahead.
Disclaimer: The legal information presented herein should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. General advice should always be tested by the particular facts and circumstances of each case. Legal advice is almost always case specific. Statues, ordinances, legal procedures, case law and rules of evidence are often revised.