A large number of the residents of Texas, along with other Americans, do not have proper estate planning documents, a new report says. The numbers are surprising, showing that up to 92 percent of those under the age of 35 do not even have a basic will, let alone full estate planning provisions. This can leave a person's assets unprotected and may result in a long and costly probate process when the person dies.
Many Texas residents believe that a will is unnecessary because their assets will pass directly to their spouse or children when they die. However, without this vital estate planning document, the estate of a deceased person is subject to state laws. This fact can result in assets going to beneficiaries other than what the deceased may have intended.
A will is not the only estate planning document that may be helpful. A healthcare representative appointed in a healthcare directive has the responsibility to make decisions regarding the health of a person should that individual no longer be able to make those decisions, including those about life-sustaining medical care. Similarly, a durable power of attorney provides for a person to manage the finances and care of a person should they become incapacitated.
There are many documents that can make up an estate plan. Each situation is understandably different, and there are many considerations that include the value of the estate and the wishes of the person creating the plan. It would be well advised for any person considering creating an estate plan to periodically review all elements of their estate to ensure that changing laws and personal circumstances have not made prior estate planning provisions obsolete.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "What Type of Estate and Tax Planning Do I Need to Do?: Without a will, your assets could be held in probate court and distributed according to state law," Susan Johnston, Feb. 28, 2012