If you live in Texas, the summer season is a good time to look at your estate planning status. Because it is the time of travel for many people, an unexpected tragic accident or medical illness can rear an ugly hand. People hate to think about tragedy, especially at a time when relaxation and rest are goals of a vacation trip. If a person has done his or her homework already and has an updated set of estate planning documents safely in tow, then pre-travel planning will not be necessary.
For those who do not have a complete, updated estate plan already prepared, it is best to do so before embarking on a travel plan. In order to assure a relatively worry-free vacation, several things should be done through the estate planning attorney's office before leaving town. First, review the need to make a will or to update the current will. Some basic research reveals that a person cannot get his or her wishes carried out without having a will. That applies where there are assets in the decedent's name at the time of death.
Without a will, the state will designate the distributable assets to certain of one's surviving blood relatives. However, they might not be the ones that you would have preferred. What's even perhaps worse is that a person's surviving blood relatives will tend to start fighting against each other for a share if there is no will.
Further, before leaving town, the person should check all life insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts, joint accounts and similar matters to determine if the accounts are titled in the right name(s) and if the beneficiaries listed are current, as well as being the preferred persons for the inheritance. It is also prudent to see that there is an appropriate trust or trusts created under Texas law to take care of the inheritances of any minors. As always, learned guidance and wise counsel is available by performing these matters through your estate planning attorney.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Before You Travel This Summer, Don't Forget These 5 Estate Planning Must Dos", Steve Cook, May 26, 2016