The Livens Law Firm

Estate planning should move beyond only development of will

Statistics show that over half of Texas residents and others around the country do not have a will. Most experts would assert that a will is typically the most basic document developed when someone begins the estate planning process. However, while an important piece to a comprehensive plan, advisers warn that there are potential concerns to having only a will.

One possible concern to some individuals is the issue of privacy. Wills are public records once they are filed with the court and are thus accessible to everyone. However, if a person developed a living trust instead, the documents would remain private. Trusts can also help someone avoid probate.

In addition, there is no disability protection with a will. Should one become incapable of making independent decisions, the court would appoint a legal guardian to handle the estate. If a living trust was established, a trustee would have already been named to handle those affairs in the event of disability. Also, assets are not protected from nursing home costs with a will alone. Yet, a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust can be created to avoid the process of spending down assets to receive nursing home care.

While wills are useful documents, it is critical to determine if they are sufficient to meet an individual's specific needs in estate planning. A Texas attorney familiar with estate administration law can provide those answers and more. Having knowledgeable guidance while developing or modifying an estate plan is essential. An effective plan can provide assurance that one's future wishes are handled as desired.

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