In Texas and elsewhere, estate planning gives a person the ability to designate the details of how his or her assets will be distributed, both during life and after the person's death. If estate planning is not implemented during the person's lifetime, then the laws of the state of residence will govern the details of distribution. The state intestate statutes will specify the persons to whom distribution is to be made and the percentages due to each category of statutory heirs.
If estate planning is implemented, you not only get to say who inherits your assets but you also can provide tax planning strategies that will maximize savings for the benefit of your heirs. Furthermore, with estate planning a vital additional benefit is added: you may provide for the carrying out of your affairs by a trusted loved one or friend during any period of incompetency when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. You may also execute during life legal documents that will provide for healthcare decisions to be made in your behalf during any period when you are incapable of acting or making decisions.
We all have seen the specter of a family that is overcome with rancor in addition to grief after a loved one's passing. There may be bickering over what the decedent would have wanted. That usually indicates the absence of an estate plan where the decedent's wishes could have been assured legally in writing.
In Texas and elsewhere, to assure a purposeful estate planning program on one's behalf, it is generally necessary to have both a durable power of attorney and a simple will. The power of attorney will allow your trusted loved one to handle your affairs if and when you become incompetent. To extend this power into the realm of healthcare decisions, a medical power of attorney is prepared.
Source: mvprogress.com, "Why Estate Planning is so important", V. Robison, Nov. 19, 2014