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What is involved in Texas estate planning

Many Texas residents fail to plan for what happens to their assets when they pass away. Without estate planning, state law determines the disposition of a person's assets. The manner in which the state distributes a person's assets is often not in line with what he or she may have wanted.

At the very least, a will provides an individual with the opportunity to decide how his or her family is taken care of after death. The importance of retaining this control through the use of estate planning documents increases when minor children are involved. In fact, additional documents, such as a trust, may provide even more control over how children inherit assets.

The provisions of a trust can dictate how assets are distributed and when. A trust can also reduce the amount of a person's taxable estate, which leaves a greater portion of the estate for distribution. Sometimes, a trust is necessary to protect the assets and preserve them for the beneficiary or beneficiaries. If heirs do not own the assets outright, creditors or spouses of the heirs cannot reach them.

As long as a Texas resident is alive, changes can be made to estate planning documents. Circumstances can change between the time the documents are first drafted and when they are needed. Both the individual making the estate plan and beneficiaries can experience major life changes such as marriages, the birth of children or divorce. A periodic review of an estate plan can ensure that the documents are up-to-date and still in line with how a person wants his or her assets distributed.

Source: Rushville Republican, Estate Planning: What you need to know, Kate Thurston, Feb. 7, 2014

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