Livens & Reed, PLLC

Estate planning is important for both small and large estates

Estate planning in Texas is an essential tool to distribute your estate, no matter how large or small, in the way that you want and to the people that you choose. Complications can arise if one does not put estate planning into place. For example, bickering among relatives may occur after death where there is nothing to guide them as to your intentions.

Lack of planning can also cause added frustration during difficult times. In one’s last illness, for example, without the proper living will and healthcare directive drawn up, your people will not have the authority to assist or direct the physicians regarding medical determinations. With the living will, one can tell the medical providers what to do regarding artificial means of life extension.

For a small to medium estate, a modest estate plan now may cut down significantly on future legal fees. It may reduce possible state or federal taxes, and a mound of potential red tape and expensive court reviews. Not having a simple durable power of attorney, for example, can cause your relatives or friends to have to petition the court for the appointment of a guardian in the event of incompetency.

A durable power of attorney could avoid such nightmarish risks. Without a will and other instruments, such as a revocable living trust, the same kinds of post-death complications, and potential chaos, can arise and plague one’s surviving family and friends. There is a statutory plan in Texas that directs what is to be done where there is no will. That plan may be the opposite, however, of what you would have chosen.

Furthermore, only with your own estate planning tools can you set up funding for children or others, with a trustee making periodic distributions as instructed. In this way, those who should not obtain possession of funds at an early age can be assisted periodically, with distributions of principal specified by you. In Texas, an estate planning framework of documents can avoid many wasteful and frustrating problems that may otherwise arise.

Source: The Spectrum, "Prepare legacy before death", Scott Halvorsen, Aug. 4, 2014

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