Throughout our life, we are always preparing for something – family, school, work, weddings, graduation. We prepare for things all the time. Death, on the other hand, is something that no one likes to ponder. Preparing for what happens to your possessions when you are gone should not be taken lightly or neglected altogether. Although, not the most fun thing to do, preparing your estate plan can actually help your family and loved ones through the grieving process, in the event of your unfortunate demise.
What is a will?
Simply put, a will is a legal document that tells the court what an individual would like to happen to their property and/or dependents. In Texas, if a person passes away without leaving a last will, the court will decide who gets your property based upon a formula that might not represent what you would have wanted.
So, when should you prepare?
The short answer is…NOW. Almost half of Americans over the age of 55 do not have a will, last testament, or estate plan. Many people put off preparing a will because they don’t know where to start or believe the process is more complicated than it actually is.
If I die without a will, won’t my spouse get all my stuff anyway?
Answer: Not necessarily. The Texas Estates Code does give your belongings to your spouse if you die without a will IF you only have children with THAT spouse. IF you have children with someone else (for example, children by a prior marriage or prior relationship), THEN a significant portion of your assets will go to that child (or those children) as well as to your spouse.
Example: Husband dies without a will. He has been married to his current spouse for20 years, but he was previously married to someone else. He has grown children with the former spouse. He has retirement, bank accounts, cars, and a house. He would have liked to leave everything to his current spouse because his grown children can take care of themselves. Does everything go to her? NO. While she can live in the house for the rest of her life (assuming that they claimed it as their homestead), the other assets will get divided between the current spouse and the grown children.
One of my children takes care of me; another child hasn’t talked to me in years. That child won’t get anything, right?
Answer: The Texas Estates Code doesn’t know the difference between a good child and a bad child. If you wanted to leave everything to the good child, you should have made a will.
It is this easy:
● Any person who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind, can make a will.
● The will must be signed by the person making the will.
● At least one beneficiary must be named in the will and two witnesses must watch the person sign the will unless the will is entirely in the person’s own handwriting.
● An attorney is always a great idea to help guide you through the process and can give you great advice on how to structure an estate plan!
If you do not have a will when you die, your assets will be divided under a formula found in the Texas Estates Code. Having a will, along with an estate plan, will ensure that your wishes are carried out when you are no longer here. In other words, your will is your voice when you are gone.
We are here to help you. Schedule your appointment with Abbott Law Office, and we will explain your options and guide you through the estate planning process.