When planning their estate, a couple residing in Texas, or elsewhere for that matter, may want to stress equality in distribution of their assets to their children. Indeed, that is the standard arrangement in the majority of estate plans. However, estate planning can also provide for any variations that the parents may desire.
Under current federal tax laws, a married couple can generally exempt up to $10 million in federal estate taxes. This effectively exempts the vast majority of Americans from having to engage in estate tax planning with respect to federal estate taxes. The change may have influenced some people in Texas and elsewhere to think that estate planning itself was no longer necessary.
An estate plan is a person's program for the maintenance and distribution of assets, both during life and at death. Estate planning is the process of making an estate plan. The process, and the legal "instruments" representing separate components of the plan, are generally similar in Texas and all other states. There are, however, some deviations in the details, procedures, tax obligations and the terminology from state to state.
Experts generally recommend certain basic documents to prepare for one's later years and for distribution of one's estate at death. These estate planning tools are a simple will, durable power of attorney, advanced medical directives, a living trust and a letter of instructions. The same instruments are generally necessary in Texas and all other states.
It's advisable to keep one's estate planning documents up-to-date by taking them in for regular checkups with an experienced estate planning attorney. Some of the documents in one's plan may be a simple will, healthcare directives, powers of attorney, a living will and a revocable trust. A legal instrument may need changes when time and circumstances cause new configurations. The principles and procedures are generally the same in Texas and elsewhere.