Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, recently passed away at the age of 76. Though her estate was estimated at over $80 million, she reportedly died without a will. Many Texas residents and others all across the country are in the same situation, leaving heirs in uncertainty about their inheritances. Even those with wills in place may find themselves in the process of probate litigation, depending on how an estate plan is established. Experts offer recommendation on how to ensure one’s assets are distributed the way they wish.
Like Ms. Franklin, the entertainer Prince also died without a will. Reportedly, none of his $200 million estate has been distributed to date. It is important to communicate how one intends to divide assets in the details of a will. A will can also address guardianship for minor children and designate who the executor for one’s estate will be.
Many individuals go beyond developing a will to creating a living trust. This can help heirs avoid the probate process in many cases. Once the trust is established, ownership of specified assets is passed to the trust. A trustee is named to be responsible for the trust’s assets.
It is important to note that estate plans need to be reviewed and altered as changes occur in a person’s life. Beneficiaries may need to be added when someone gets married, or children or grandchildren are born. Others may need to be eliminated if death or divorce has occurred. An annual review of estate plans will ensure that information is kept up-to-date.
A Texas attorney familiar with probate and estate plan administration can offer valuable assistance in establishing these much-needed documents. Whether clients are interested in wills or trusts, an experienced lawyer can evaluate their needs and recommend the best plan forward. Having an effective estate plan in place will provide peace of mind that an estate will be handled as one intended.