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Various estate planning options available for families

Thinking and talking about death is understandably difficult for many people in Texas, which is why estate planning is often not on people's lists of priorities. However, it is essential that individuals, especially farmers and other small business owners, think about the future of their businesses and livelihoods for their survivors. A few tips may help people engage in effective estate planning.

If a person dies without an estate plan or will, his or her estate will go into probate. This means the property will automatically default to the state, with a court process being used to determine final ownerships. The plan of the state for a person's property is usually not in line with what the person would have wanted.

Options worth considering in order to avoid issues with probate include creating a trust or will or engaging in non-probate transfers. Although still possibly subject to probate, a will offers the advantages of the disposition of property in an orderly manner and with court supervision as well as flexibility in how property is distributed. A will can also be handy for naming a guarding of children who are minors.

A trust offers the benefit of helping to avoid probate all together. Trusts are also flexible, and people can use them to set up controls of their property after their deaths. They can also help those who wish to plan for a special-needs family member or those who wish to keep their legal records related to their estate private. Appropriate legal guidance may help people choose the right estate planning vehicles for their particular needs in Texas.

Source: agrinews-pubs.com, "Estate planning can lessen grief for survivors", Karen Binder, Dec. 31, 2015

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