Estate plans are not just for elderly folks, wealthy business tycoons, or married couples with kids.
Every adult should have an estate plan, but unfortunately, two-thirds of Americans do not even have a will. If you have not done any estate planning, now is the time to act—and today, we’ll explain why.
What Goes Into an Estate Plan?
Before delving into when to start estate planning, it will help to understand what documents are typically included in an estate plan. Many people think that a last will and testament is all they need, but an estate plan can encompass much more.
Every person has different family dynamics, financial circumstances, and goals, so no two plans are the same. However, a comprehensive estate plan will likely include the documents listed below.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament communicates your wishes about distributing your assets and providing for your children, if applicable. This legal document becomes effective at your death.
A trust is a separate entity that a trustee manages on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts come in many forms and serve different purposes. One important purpose of a trust is to put assets into an account that can be distributed without the need to go through probate.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a legal document that appoints an agent to act on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated.
Also known as advance directives, healthcare documents allow you to make medical decisions for yourself that will take effect should you lose the mental or physical capacity to make those decisions later. For example, you can decide whether you want artificial nutrition or hydration if you become unable to feed yourself.
These documents govern a person’s assets and affairs at death and also during life. That’s why it’s so important to start estate planning now. Not only are you preparing for what happens after you pass, but you can instruct loved ones on how to make financial and medical decisions if you become unable to do so.
When Should You Start Estate Planning in Texas?
Anyone 18 years of age or older should have an estate plan in place. Why? Once you reach the age of majority (which is 18 in most states), you assume all financial, medical, and legal responsibility for yourself.
If something happens to you, whether that’s death or losing capacity, where do your assets go? Who tells the doctor what sort of treatment to give you? Who pays your bills?
Of course, your estate plan will change over time and evolve as life progresses. In fact, you should revisit your estate plan every three to five years or upon a significant life event.
But don’t wait for something like marriage, kids, a home purchase, or retirement to start estate planning. You are never too old, young, rich, or poor to have an estate plan.
Why Start Estate Planning Now?
Life is uncertain. In a single moment, you could lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. It’s imperative to have a plan in place so your family doesn’t have to guess or agonize over what’s best for you or what you would have wanted.
Here are more reasons why you should start estate planning now:
- Give yourself peace of mind;
- Provide for your family the way you want;
- Protect your assets;
- Communicate your wishes and instructions; and
- Avoid discord among family by creating a plan.
Without an estate plan, Texas intestate succession law dictates what happens to your assets. Essentially, there’s a hierarchy of family members who will inherit your property, and this may not be what you want. Take control and start planning your legacy today.
How to Start Estate Planning
Now that you know the importance of estate planning, where to start? Texas doesn’t require you to use a lawyer to write an estate plan. However, speaking with an estate planning attorney is a great place to start.
An experienced lawyer will evaluate your assets, learn about your family, and discuss your goals. From there, they can craft an estate plan that meets your needs and provides for your loved ones the way you want.
An estate planning lawyer will also ensure that your documents are properly drafted according to Texas law and are enforceable when the time comes.
Contact Our Team of Estate Planning Attorneys
Protect yourself and provide for your family by estate planning today! At Robbins Estate Law, we design estate plans that meet your needs and fulfill your legacy. Our estate planning attorneys have graduated at the top of their class from one of the best schools in the nation.
Call our office or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.