Livens & Reed, PLLC

Estate planning now helps avoid future confusion, conflict

Regardless of income level, most residents of Texas and other states around the country have an idea of how they would like their assets distributed after they are gone. While many have certain expectations, not everyone has formally expressed their desires by going through the estate planning process. Countless individuals have never developed a will, much less a comprehensive estate plan. Experts suggest that such plans help eliminate any confusion regarding how someone's wishes should be carried out.

Recently, the singer Aretha Franklin passed away without a will, leaving her survivors in uncertainty as the distribution of her estate must now be determined by the courts. Financial planners recommend that the issues be addressed while a person has the faculties to do so. Some first steps would be to develop a will to designate how an estate will be divided and who will oversee the process. The person selected to manage someone's estate is an executor.

It is advisable to include directives in a will regarding guardianship of younger children. Someone may also want to address charitable giving in a will. Regardless of what instructions are given, it is imperative to review and update the documents if any life changes occur to those named, such as deaths, births or divorces.

Another document that may be included in an estate plan could be a living trust. These can be advantageous since many trusts go into effect when approved, not having to wait until someone passes away. Others may choose to include living wills or medical directives that give instructions on what to do if individuals becomes mentally or physically unable to care for themselves.

There are certain components of estate planning that are common; however, each estate plan can be as unique as the person developing it. A Texas attorney familiar with estate administration can be a valuable partner in determining what path to take. A knowledgeable lawyer will work with clients to ensure that their estates will be handled in the future according to their wishes.

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