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June 2015 Archives

Always remember to identify beneficiaries on your 401(k)

No matter how well designed your will happens to be, it probably does not cover the disposition of your 401(k) and Individual Retirement Accounts. These accounts have a special form to designate beneficiaries of the funds. Unless Texas residents correctly specify who is to receive the contents of their 401(k) account on their 401(k) beneficiary form, those assets might end up being distributed in a way that you did not originally intend. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you have completed any beneficiary forms on your financial accounts and that you have filled them out appropriately. 

Same-sex couples have unique estate planning needs

As same-sex marriage comes before the U.S. Supreme Court, many Texas residents are watching to see if the highest court in the land will rule that these unions must be recognized throughout the nation. That said, same-sex marriage is and will continue to be a topic of political debate for many years to come, and the legal challenges against the issue will continue to mount. This leaves many same-sex couples in a precarious legal situation, especially when it comes to matters of estate planning.

What to expect from the Texas probate process

The probate process governs how a Texas estate will be distributed among its heirs. The executor of a Texas estate will generally have a four-year time frame in which to begin the probate process. If no will is filed in probate within that time, the court will divide the estate according to state intestacy laws -- meaning that the probate process will treat the estate like no will ever existed. 

Estate planning tips: Remember to update beneficiary designations

Beneficiary designations listed on financial accounts can supersede anything written in a last will and testament. Even if a will is redrafted after a divorce, if the beneficiary designation on a 401(k) account is not updated to remove the ex-spouse, then the ex-spouse could ultimately inherit the contents of the 401(k) in the event of the account holder's death. Although it may seem unfair, this is how Texas estate planning law works. Therefore, it is important to remember to review beneficiary designations periodically to ensure they are accurate.