Seguin Estate Planning Law Blog

Careful estate planning may reduce family conflicts

The idea of creating an estate plan can leave many Texas residents feeling overwhelmed. Though they may have ideas about how they would like to distribute their remaining assets and ideas relating to other estate planning matters, they may worry about how their family dynamics will affect how well those plans are carried out. It is true that family relationships can cause difficulties during probate, but individuals could take steps to reduce the potential for conflict.

One worry that some parties may have is that their heirs will irresponsibly spend their inheritances. Some loved ones may suffer from substance abuse issues, mental health problems or other factors that could make them less likely to have responsible control over large sums of money. Fortunately, individuals could create trusts in order to stagger payments to heirs or that could stipulate that the assets can only be used or accessed under certain stipulations.

Elder law has a serious financial abuse problem

Powers of attorney are common estate planning tools. Many people in Texas use these documents to make sure that their medical and financial wishes are respected even if they are unable to make decisions on their own. Sadly, there is a significant amount of abuse within this area of elder law.

Abuse of the elderly often brings to mind physical abuse or neglect, but this is not the only way in which another person might harm an elderly individual. Financial abuse constitutes a significant threat to elderly individuals' ability to support themselves during their later years. Many of these individuals have spent their whole lives saving toward retirement and end-of-life care, but a MetLife survey found out that there is a $2.9 billion financial abuse problem among the elderly.

Estate planning sooner rather than later is wise

Many Texas residents believe that they have all the time in the world to complete certain tasks. While that may seem true, it is not always a reality. Because unexpected events can happen at any moment, individuals may want to consider estate planning sooner rather than later.

Less than 50% of Americans have estate plans in place, which leaves a substantial number of people in a precarious situation. Without any type of estate planning documents in place, the guardianship of minor children will be up to the court in the event that both parents pass away. Because most parents do not want to put that important detail up to chance, it is wise to create wills to appoint their desired guardians. However, only 36% of parents with kids under 18 have created wills.

Wills can include a lot of valuable information

Creating a will is an important part of any estate plan. This document can include much information that surviving family members will find valuable when the time comes to close the estate of a loved one who recently passed. Of course, many Texas residents may not know what to include in their wills.

The exact information included in this document will be unique to each person. For instance, if a person has children who are not yet adults, it is wise to include a guardian appointment in the will so that the children will be taken care of by a trusted person. On the other hand, an individual may not have children and, as a result, does not need to make that designation. However, both can benefit from naming executors in their wills who will handle their final affairs.

Steps to plan for care may involve looking into Medicaid

Needing long-term care can be a difficult situation to consider. However, even if Texas residents want to believe that they will never end up incapacitated or needing extended care for another reason, it happens to numerous individuals. As a result, it is wise to take steps to plan for care before the need is imminent.

One planning option that many people consider is Medicaid planning. Medicaid can offer financial assistance to qualifying individuals that may help lessen the burden that the costs of long-term care can present. Of course, there are eligibility requirements that must be met in order to obtain this benefit. Namely, a person's income and assets must not exceed a certain amount, which is where planning ahead can help.

Estate planning steps can help simplify probate

Many Texas residents undoubtedly know that going through the probate process can be difficult on surviving family. Individuals may have had to carry out the proceedings for their own loved ones and know firsthand how long the process can take. As a result, they may want to do what they can to simplify the probate process by estate planning.

Fortunately, people can use many planning tools to keep certain assets out of probate, which could help assets pass directly to designated individuals. For instance, parties can create payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations for some accounts. This allows a beneficiary to be named and for the assets in the account to pass directly to the beneficiary after the account holder's death. As a result, the assets do not need probating.

Estate planning has uses for any adult

Understandably, many Texas residents may have mixed feelings about creating estate plans. In many cases, individuals do not participate in estate planning or do not do so sooner because they don't understand how useful these plans can be. They may have mistaken notions that estate plans are only for certain types of people, but really, they are for everyone.

Estate plans can go a long way when it comes to protecting family members and assets for those individuals. A plan can indicate who should receive which assets. These designations can come in handy and prevent state law from dictating to whom assets get distributed. An estate plan can also protect young children by giving parents the ability to appoint guardians to take over in the event of the parents' deaths.

Forgetting digital assets is an estate planning mistake

Technological advances affect Texas residents and those elsewhere in various ways. In fact, many people put a considerable amount of their lives online, and as a result, they create a number of digital assets. However, because these assets are not as tangible as physical assets, they may not always remember to account for them while estate planning.

Even if online assets do not have a considerable amount of monetary value, they may still be important to surviving loved ones. Online photo albums, emails and social media posts could all fall into the category of digital assets, and many family members want the ability to look through those assets after a loved one's death. However, if they are password protected, difficult to find and have not been addressed in an estate plan, family members may be at a loss.

Springing powers may be useful in power of attorney documents

It can certainly be difficult to consider, but many Texas residents will likely face a time in life when they cannot make sound decisions any longer. This type of scenario affects many people as they age because mental and physical decline is common. Due to this possibility, it is wise to make preparatory arrangements, including naming a power of attorney agent.

A power of attorney agent can act on a person's behalf when needed, especially when it comes to making financial or health-related decisions. Individuals may want to consider creating a durable power of attorney document, which would give their agents the ability to continue acting on their behalves in the event of incapacitation. Having a trusted person to act on one's behalf could make a number of situations easier.

How much compensation can the executor of a will receive?

Settling the Texas estate of a recently deceased person is not an easy task. The executor of a will has the obligation of making sure that all the necessary steps are taken to close the estate correctly and of handling the individual's final affairs. Even when cases are straightforward, they can take time and effort. In some cases, disputes could take place that make the situation even more difficult.

Due to the difficult nature of the job, most executors are entitled to some kind of compensation for their efforts. The amount of compensation, also known as a fee, can depend on many factors, including whether the deceased indicated a fee amount or specific bequest in the will or if state laws are dictating the amount. Typically, the amount is considered reasonable for the executor's efforts and may relate to a percentage of the estate or percentage of the transactions made by the executor.

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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