Seguin Estate Planning Law Blog

Starting probate can already take a lot of work

Many Texas residents do not understand how to close a deceased individual's estate until they are in the position of starting the process themselves. Acting as the executor of an estate is a complicated role, and most people who take on the position are not professionals. Fortunately, executors can have help throughout probate and can look into how to begin the process effectively.

Because the estate's assets play a vital role in settling the final affairs, inventorying those assets can act as a good starting point. Once an executor knows what he or she is working with, it may be easier to know what will be distributed and how. Gathering information about bank accounts, vehicle titles, real estate deeds, life insurance policies and other asset information could be useful.

Estate planning can ensure kids and pets receive desired care

Many Texas residents may struggle with making plans for tomorrow let alone for the end of their lives. As a result, they may put off estate planning because they do not feel equipped to tackle such an endeavor or may even believe that they do not need a plan. However, there are many reasons that an estate plan can be useful for individuals and their families.

First, any parent of minor children can benefit from having an estate plan. A will is the legal document in which parents can indicate who they want to act as the guardian of their minor children in the event of death or incapacity of the parents. Even if parents are young, having this safeguard in place can be useful because accidents can happen at any time, and they certainly do not want to leave the care of their children up to chance.

Estate planning options for leaving funds to younger generations

It is common for people to want to leave something behind for their loved ones. As they work through the estate planning process, they may consider the various ways in which they could leave bequests to younger generations. Of course, most Texas residents do not want their young loved ones to spend their bequests irresponsibly and may wonder what they can do to prevent that.

Often, a useful planning tool for individuals in this situation is a trust. A trust allows parties to have more control over how beneficiaries can use assets left behind. If a person has multiple individuals to leave funds to, such as a grandparent wanting to leave funds for grandkids, a pot trust could allow multiple individuals to benefit from it while having a trustee to manage the spending.

Long-term care often needs more than Medicare for expenses

As Texas residents age, some may come to realize that their health is not holding up as well as they had hoped. They could develop serious medical conditions or have a disability that makes it likely that they will need long-term care in the future. If this is the case, planning ahead is wise.

Many people may expect Medicare or Medicaid to cover the necessary expenses associated with extended care, but that is not a guarantee. Medicare may cover a short-term stay in a nursing facility for qualifying individuals, but the coverage typically only lasts 20 days before the patient will need to pay a portion of the costs up to 100 days. After 100 days, Medicare will no longer cover any portion of the costs.

Beneficiaries can contribute to probate delays

Though most Texas residents feel a great deal of grief after the death of a loved one, they often also want to receive any inheritances they are entitled to as quickly as possible. Of course, most estates need to go through probate, and it is not unusual for the process to take a considerable amount of time. Certain factors can also contribute to the process taking even longer.

Beneficiaries are a major part of closing an estate, but they can also contribute to delays. If the estate has more than three beneficiaries, the process can take longer because each beneficiary must receive notification of probate and the actions being taken. In many cases, the beneficiaries need to sign certain documents and return them to the executor, which can also cause delays if there are several beneficiaries or if some take their time sending documents back.

Remember to account for digital assets when estate planning

Most people save photos, videos, important documents and other items in digital form without thinking about it. In fact, it may seem more unusual to actually have physical photos printed than to just post digital copies on social media. While this may seem convenient now, these digital assets could cause complications later if Texas residents do not account for them while estate planning.

A considerable part of many people's lives takes place online these days. As a result, it is easy to forget all of the accounts created and what they are used for. Because of this, it is a smart move to list all of the online accounts and devices that use those accounts. Once individuals know what they need to address, they may be more easily able to indicate how they want those digital assets handled. Some examples to remember include email accounts, social media accounts, gaming accounts, storage and filing sharing, shopping accounts, and more.

Considering how to keep wills, other documents safe

After creating an important legal document, it is vital that the document is kept safe and is easily accessible. This is particularly true for Texas residents who have created their wills and other estate planning documents. Finding the right place to store these records can ensure that they are available when needed.

If storing the original copies at home, it is wise to think about the potential for damage that could come to the documents. If not kept in storage that will protect against the elements, papers could be lost due to fire, water damage or other issues. It is not too far-fetched to say that individuals could benefit from having their estate planning records kept in a fireproof safe. Of course, not everyone will rush out and purchase such an item simply for their documents.

Elder law planning wise after dementia diagnosis

It is common for people to have fears about getting older. They may worry that they will never achieve certain dreams or that they will find themselves with ill health. Unfortunately, diseases like Alzheimer's affect numerous people in Texas and across the country, and when a person receives such a diagnosis, it makes sense to consider elder law planning. 

Often, individuals with Alzheimer's disease need care beyond what a family member could provide. As a result, it is important that individuals put plans in place to address possible care. If they still have most of their cognitive abilities, parties could make plans themselves that include an advance directive that would allow them to indicate what type of care they would want to receive in a certain situation, particularly if the scenario seems terminal.

Estate planning for the business owner can help current affairs

Many Texas residents have worked hard to build the legacies that are their businesses. They may have had dreams of it being a family business or of simply passing it on to the next qualified person in order to keep it up and running. Whatever the case, including details about a business during estate planning is wise.

Estate planning can help individuals become more aware of their personal and business-related financial affairs. This information can help when determining how to address those affairs during the planning process, but it can also prove useful when it comes to managing those affairs currently and in the future. It could help business owners learn about possible options for growing their wealth and allow them to protect it through their estate plans.

It's easier to distribute property with TOD accounts

Settling a recently deceased individual's final affairs can be a difficult job for the executor of the Texas estate. Though the executor has many obligations to address during probate, other loved ones may simply be concerned with when he or she will distribute property from the remaining estate. Though this action does take place during probate proceedings, some accounts do not have to go through the process in order to be distributed.

Transfer on death accounts allow for the assets in such accounts to transfer directly to a named beneficiary after the account holder's death. This type of transfer is often appealing to individuals who do not want their assets to remain in probate for months or for their loved ones to have to wait that long to receive their bequests. Of course, not all accounts or property qualify as TOD.

Contact Kolb & Murray, P.C., at 830-386-4801 to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced law firm devoted to serving you, your family and your business.

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Seguin, TX 78155

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