Seguin Estate Planning Law Blog

Must the executor of a will provide a copy of the inventory?

Most people do not keep their lives neat and tidy. Because there are so many ups and downs throughout anyone's life, it can be difficult to keep everything as organized as possible. As a result, it is important that the executor of a will does an inventory of assets remaining in an estate for his or her own sake and to provide to the court.

Texas executors may also want to determine whether they need to provide a copy of the inventory to the beneficiaries. In some states, it is required that the executor complete the inventory and certify that a copy has been provided to each beneficiary. However, it is not always required to send a copy to all beneficiaries, particularly if a beneficiary is a minor or is an incapacitated adult.

Considering a letter of instruction when estate planning

When creating an estate plan, some Texas residents may think of only the big documents. They know that they need a will and that trusts could be useful. They may also want to include information for incapacitation, such as power of attorney documents and health care directives. However, it may also be wise to consider some less formal documents when estate planning.

One document that some parties may want to consider is a letter of instruction. This document does not necessarily hold any legal weight or need to be created in accordance with any laws. As a result, individuals who want to leave a letter of instruction in their estate plan can approach it any way they wish. Some may find brevity to suit their needs, and others may wish to give specific details and additional information that they want their loved ones to know.

Probate can become complicated if a beneficiary dies

Closing an estate can be complicated for any number of reasons. Some Texas residents may think that the probate process is going relatively smoothly only to be blindsided by an unexpected event. For example, beneficiaries may be working to handle the distribution of a particular asset when one of the beneficiaries passes away.

When a beneficiary passes away during the probate process for another estate, it can complicate matters. For example, if the beneficiaries are attempting to sell a home so that the proceeds can be split between three beneficiaries, they may wonder what to do if one of them dies. If this happens, it does not mean that the proceeds from the home sale can simply be split two ways. Instead, the deceased beneficiary's own probate proceedings will come into play.

Consider adding an advance health directive to estate plans

Getting older affects each person differently than the next. Some Texas residents may be able to maintain their good health well into their elder years, and others may experience mental or physical health issues. Because it is not easy to predict which will be the case for any one person, creating an advance medical directive as part of an estate plan is wise.

This document can allow interested individuals to address important areas of their care. Typically, this document goes into effect when someone cannot make important health care decisions for him or herself. The document can name a person to act as the agent in charge of making important decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. Because most people do not want just anyone to have that power, planning ahead can help prevent unwanted appointments.

Don't overlook important estate planning details

Even with the best of intentions, some Texas residents may not make the best estate plans possible. They may understand the importance of having a plan, but if they do not have other important information, they could end up making matters more difficult for their families. In particular, making estate planning mistakes can prove detrimental.

One issue that some parties may run into is not realizing that they can keep some of their assets out of probate. Probate can be a long and difficult process to complete, and it means that family members and other beneficiaries will have to wait until the end of the process to receive their assets. However, individuals could use other planning tools, like trusts or beneficiary designations on payable-on-death accounts, to allow assets to pass more quickly to beneficiaries.

A simple will may not suit every estate

Creating a will is an important part of any estate plan. However, the type of will that a person uses can depend on a number of factors. For example, a simple will may work for one person, but another individual may need a joint will or could possibly even use a holographic or oral will.

Simple wills are commonly used and can help Texas residents indicate who they want to handle their final affairs, who they want to act as guardians of their children and who should receive their final assets. On the other hand, some married couples may choose to create a joint will so that their shared estate is addressed in one document. This can be useful in ensuring that the surviving spouse receives the entirety of the remaining estate.

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.

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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