Writing a will and making a list of assets to be passed along to heirs is the first step in preparing for the future. Procrastinating about estate planning is a common mistake. In Texas and all other states, not having the proper documents in place in the event of one’s death means the state’s intestacy laws will determine how a person’s assets will be distributed.
Over time, many life changes can occur. The executor chosen years ago may no longer be up to the challenge, and incorrect beneficiary designations can cause a mountain of problems. Life insurance and retirement plan proceeds go to the beneficiary named, and the joint tenancy of assets with survivorship rights will pass straight through to the joint tenant. Regardless of what a will states, the beneficiary designations will take precedent. A benefactor should review documents periodically to make sure everything is in line.
To avoid legal battles, one should make sure that all family heirlooms, collectibles and other sentiments are appropriately bequeathed. Also, one should create a digital library of all accounts, passwords and social media accounts that will need to be closed. Most importantly, one should make sure that family members know where to find necessary documents. Final plans cannot be executed if no one knows the documents exist.
In Texas, people can consult with an elder law attorney who specializes in estate planning. A lawyer can develop and maintain a thorough plan that will allow asset distribution to be carried out. Having a solid estate plan in place that communicates final requests and wishes will protect loved ones and provide additional peace of mind to everyone involved.
Source: wmur.com, “Money Matters: Estate planning mistakes“, Marc Hebert, Dec. 28, 2017