If you die without an Estate Plan, Texas law has a formula that determines the distribution of your assets. That formula does not consider your wishes or unique circumstances. The following summary explains how Texas law distributes your assets if you die without a plan.
John and Diane have been married for over 30 years. They have no children together, but each of them has two children from prior marriages. In their Wills, they provide for each other first and then leave the assets equally to all four children. What they don’t consider when drafting their Wills is that the survivor of the two of them can always change the Will to leave everything to only that survivor’s children.
I see a lot of poor writing when reviewing estate plans for clients. Most of the worst writing I see occurs when people attempt to write their Wills using forms found on the internet, including LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. I addressed do-it-yourself estate planning in a previous post. In case you didn't see it or you've forgotten what I said, you should run, not walk away from forms found on the internet. Proper estate planning isn't as simple as a few fill-in-the-blank forms. You must know the legal effect of the wording that goes into your estate plan. You need an estate planning attorney to make sure the language in your estate plan correctly accomplishes what you want to achieve.
Mary’s estate consists of two significant assets, a life insurance policy and a traditional IRA. Both assets are equal in value. To simplify and equally distribute her assets, Mary names her son as the beneficiary of her life insurance and her daughter as the beneficiary of her IRA.
have seen a lot of poorly drafted estate plans. Inexperienced attorneys wrote some of those plans. Financial planners and CPAs even wrote some of them. With the proliferation of wrong information on the internet, I have seen more than a few poorly written do-it-yourself estate plans from forms found on the web. It isn't a good idea to find forms on the internet and then complete them by just typing your name in blank spaces. And, just because you pay for a form on the web doesn't mean you're getting something that fits your needs.
I discourage clients from planning their estates around specific assets. There may be a compelling reason to do it in rare instances, but in most cases, it can result in unintended consequences.
In another post, I talked about why a Will is not the best tool to address your concerns for quickly transferring your assets, keeping your estate private, or properly leaving money to minors. A Trust, however, does address these concerns. Here's how: Asset Management If you have heirs...