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Important estate planning questions for Houston residents to ask

For an experienced estate planning professional, many of the questions one must ask regarding the estate planning process come second nature. Nevertheless, the average Houston resident may be at a loss for the kind of estate planning questions he or she needs answers to. Indeed, some of these questions are vital to ensuring that one’s will is followed to the letter after one’s death.

First and foremost, those who are planning their estates must ask themselves whether their spouse is well acquainted with their financial advisor. If only one spouse manages all of the family’s investment accounts and other finances, for example, it is likely that the other spouse is unfamiliar with the issues and may not know the family’s financial advisor very well. It can be very difficult for a widow or widower to suddenly have to speak with a person he or she does not know regarding sensitive financial matters — especially during the emotional time period that follows the loss of a spouse. In the event that one’s spouse is not familiar with the investment advisor, it is important that they meet as soon as possible.

Estate planners must also ask themselves if their spouses know where their financial accounts are and how to gain access to them. A password list that includes all online memberships and financial accounts can be compiled. A list of estate planning documents, such as estate papers, trust documents and wills can also be compiled. Finally, a list of contact information for financial planners, lawyers, CPAs and other professionals can be made available for spouses to turn to following one’s death.

There are other important questions that individuals may wish to ask. For example, do the beneficiary designations listed on insurance policies, 401k accounts and other documents reflect recent deaths and/or divorces in the family? By asking the right questions, individuals who are completing the estate planning process in Houston can save their heirs and beneficiaries numerous commonly experienced pitfalls and ensure that their will and estate plan is carried out as they wished following their death.

Source:, “3 Important Estate Planning Questions“, Scott Holsopple, May 2, 2014