Seguin Estate Planning Law Blog

Take account of elections when estate planning

As the new year gets underway, many Texas residents may have an interest in getting certain affairs in order. In particular, individuals may want to go over their financial and estate planning goals and determine whether their current plans still suit those goals. Making adjustments now could save confusion and difficulty in the future.

Because 2020 is also an election year, it may be particularly important to go over current plans. Elections can often bring about changes to tax laws and other laws, and if parties have concerns about their assets, they may want to ensure that they have implemented planning tools that can help them protect those assets. Though the election is still months away, it is wise to get planning early to avoid an end-of-year scramble.

Certain estate planning tools can benefit most people

There are many options for creating an estate plan. However, some people may feel overwhelmed by the many choices and not know whether they need to utilize them. Because each Texas resident's plan is different, the exact documents needed will differ. However, certain estate planning tools can benefit most everyone.

First, individuals may want to consider their wills. A last will and testament can include ways in which individuals want their property distributed, who they want to be their executor and who they want to care for their children if they are still minors. As a result, a will is a good place to start the planning process. However, individuals may want to include another type of will: a living will. This document is an advanced health directive that can give instructions on how to handle end-of-life care, particularly if a person is unable to express those wishes due to incapacitation.

Do not make the mistake of forgetting long-term care plans

Getting older is different for each person. Some Texas residents may live until they are 100 or close to it without suffering any major ill health effects. Of course, it is more common for individuals to experience physical and mental health decline as they reach their elder years, which is why it important to consider long-term care planning options.

After the age of 65, 70% of individuals will need some type of long-term care. Because of the substantial likelihood of this taking place, individuals may want to ensure that their estate plans address this possibility. Too often, parties think that estate plans are only needed to address property distribution and other post-death matters. However, it is a mistake not to include care instructions in such a plan.

Do not forget digital assets when estate planning

No matter a person's age, he or she likely has some information online or in digital form. Even older people utilize social media as a way to connect with old friends or stay in touch with family, and many have gotten used to conducting financial affairs through online portals. While these factors are relatively commonplace in most people's lives, it is important not to overlook them when estate planning.

If Texas residents are working to get their affairs in order, it is important that they remember to include their digital assets in their plans. If they forget, serious problems could arise for surviving loved ones. Individuals can start by creating an inventory of their digital assets, like online financial accounts, email, photo storage, social media accounts and more. The inventory should include usernames, passwords and other important information for each account.

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.

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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