Texas residents who have yet to create an estate plan will no doubt have a lot of questions about the estate planning process. Indeed, you might even be wondering what estate planning is or why you even need an estate plan. To answer this question, one should address the basics. Estate planning helps ensure that the final wishes you have for your health and property are honored when you are not able to communicate those wishes — either due to your incapacitation or death.
In terms of understanding estate planning, it is vital to understand what constitutes an estate in legal terms. Your estate consists of all the property that you own at the moment of your death. This property could include real estate, stocks, life insurance policies, investments and bank accounts. It also includes personal property like jewelry, art, automobiles and antiques.
An estate plan can help you with the assets in your estate no matter how wealthy or old you are. For example, your estate plan will list your family members, friends, and/or charities that you want to inherit a portion of your estate after your death. A well-planned estate will also ensure that your assets are transferred quickly and efficiently to your beneficiaries without the threat of legal challenges and costly litigation. Another important aspect of an estate plan involves the minimization of tax liabilities incurred by your estate and its beneficiaries.
By educating yourself on the benefits of estate planning, you will be better able to communicate with your estate planning professional about your unique goals and needs. For example, would a will or trust be more suitable to achieve your goals? Should you leave different amounts of money to different children? A well-trained Texas estate planner will also be able to give you suggestions about which elements to include and how best to make your estate plan a success for yourself and your loved ones.
Source: FindLaw, “What is Estate Planning?“, March 4, 2015