Proper estate planning is vital to ensuring your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. It also relieves surviving family members of making tough decisions or suffering common consequences, including estate taxes, or failing to plan your estate.
A probate attorney can assist in drafting a will or making other estate plans, as well as in administering a will through the probate court process, representing an heir or contesting an estate.
Having a valid will topped the list of 10 steps to painless estate planning, published recently by CNN Money. And yet fewer than half of survey respondents had even initiated the process. At Bertolino LLP, we understand contemplating death and dealing with estate questions can be uncomfortable. But it doesn’t get any easier for family members to handle after a loved one passes. Removing that burden is a selfless act that can also ensure that your estate is optimized for tax purposes and properly distributed in accordance with the law.
Other critical steps in drafting a will and forming an estate plan.
Choosing your Team: Most people understand assets are left to heirs. But who should guardian the children if both parents die? Who do you want making medical decisions or handling financial affairs for you in the event you are incapacitated? Who should execute your will and/or administer your estate?
Power of Attorney: This is a powerful legal tool that permits someone to legally act on your behalf for varying lengths of time and for various purposes. In general, these powers should be narrowly granted and properly defined. Cases in which broad powers are granted are most often linked with abuse. A health-care power of attorney, or health care proxy, is established by signing a durable power of attorney for health care and gives another person legal standing to make health-care decisions on your behalf.
Living Will: Also known as an Advanced Medical Directive, a Living Will outlines your wishes for life-saving or life-sustaining medical intervention in the event you become terminally ill or incapacitated. Did you think that a “Living Will” was a will someone made while alive?
Communicate: Talk to your heirs. Let your wishes and your reasoning be known to those involved. We too often skirt these conversations, when having them can help relieve the minds of your loved ones and give everyone a clear sense of direction, secure in the knowledge of your wishes.
Trusts: In many cases, the benefits of establishing a trust may be well worth the investment. Far from just a tool for the wealthy, a trust can permit you to save money on estate and gift taxes while allowing your assets to pass to heirs without the costs or delays associated with probate court.
An experienced probate attorney in Texas can take the few simple steps necessary to put your state affairs in order. The cost savings and the peace of mind will be well worth the effort.