Studies show that most people put off basic estate planning

For a young or middle-aged married couple residing in Texas, there are certain steps that can provide invaluable protection for the future. One is to make sure that adequate life insurance is in place, and that means not necessarily relying only on what one's employer provides, which may be an inadequate amount. For estate planning purposes, there are computations online that can figure out a family's insurance needs.

It is important for each spouse to know something about the details of the other  spouse's life insurance policies. For each one, a spouse should know the name of the company,  the purpose for the coverage, the coverage amount, its cost, expiration date if applicable and the deadline for conversion into a whole life policy. It is also critical to review the beneficiary designations at least annually to make sure they are updated and still applicable.

In a 2013 survey, 70 percent of adults with minor children said they did not have a will. That is a rather surprising figure, considering the importance to the children of getting all of the necessary protections in place for them. One's children can possibly be placed in financial jeopardy after one's death if a will and possible trusts are not properly in place. This is due to the inheritance laws of each state.

Another problem seen by Texas estate planning professionals is that many people don't know where the legal documents for themselves or their family members are located. After death, it can be a search far and wide, and it sometimes takes up valuable time of an estate attorney to assist in locating everything. A better answer is to prepare a list of documents in advance, with identities, locations and special notes or instructions about each. In that connection, it is also wise for each spouse to prepare a set of instructions for post-death actions and wishes. This may include last wishes about burial, cremation and even funeral procedures.  

Source: nerdwallet.com, "5 Ways Couples Can Tackle Estate Planning Now", Barbara Marquand, Dec. 14, 2015

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