How do you begin the Estate Planning process? This guide covers everything you need to know, including often-missed elements you don’t want to forget.
Not the Time to DIY
If you’re a “do-it-yourselfer” by nature, know that this is not the time to rely on your DIY skills. Probate and estate planning law is vast and is modified on a regular basis. If you’re not a total expert, you are asking for trouble. Seemingly small details like the number of witnesses or whether the will is typed or handwritten can have serious ramifications. If you accidentally fail to adhere to the laws governing creating a will, your will could actually be deemed invalid by the Probate Court after you pass away. That means that the Laws of the State could determine things like what happens to your property or your child’s guardianship. If you’re thinking of DIY-ing your will to save a few bucks, don’t. It’s not worth the risk – plus, the cost of a will is nominal compared to what your family will have to pay attorneys to litigate your estate.
More than a Will
No matter how much planning we do, we never quite know where life will take us. That’s why, when it comes to estate planning, the best option is to plan for every possible outcome. When discussing estate planning, most people first think of wills. A will is a document that is designed to plan for events that need to take place after death. And while we all hope to pass peacefully after living a long, active life, there are many different situations that can arise as we grow older. It’s important that your estate planning includes arrangements for situations like incapacitation or medical issues.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- How can my estate planning documents protect me if I am unable to protect myself?
- Who is going to make medical decisions for me if I get into an accident, fall into a coma, or become incapacitated due to emergency surgery?
- Who is going to make financial decisions for me if I am unable to manage my finances?
Documents such as Powers of Attorney and Directive to Physicians assist in making decisions for you when you are unable to do so. An estate plan without these documents is ineffective. Although we hope that these documents will never need to be used, your loved ones will thank you for being prepared if something does happen.
Estate Planning in the 21st Century
The digital age has changed everything about life as we know it, and estate planning is no exception. Now we must take digital properties into consideration. Things like social media accounts, digital photos, and cryptocurrency are considered assets of your estate, and it’s not always clear who receives them. By specifically assigning ownership over these digital assets in your estate plan, you can help your family avoid confusion after you have passed away. When you sit down for the initial consultation with your attorney, ask for these digital items to be mentioned specifically in your estate plan.
Consider a Trust
Trusts create flexibility, protect assets, and, in some cases, eliminate the need for the probate process as a whole. By creating a trust and having your estate pass through your trust, you can potentially side-step the probate process and protect your estate from creditors and money judgments. Trusts provide peace of mind – you can place protections for your minor children or descendants that may not be old enough or mature enough to manage the wealth you have left for them, and have comfort knowing your loved ones won’t be dealing with the court after you pass away.
Work with Experienced Estate Planners
Burrows Law Group has a team of expert attorneys who draft estate plans that include wills, trusts, and additional life documents. With over fifteen years of experience and extensive training, you can trust that Burrows’ attorneys are more than prepared to assist with your probate and estate planning. In fact, in 2019 Burrows Law Group received the Best of Denton County Award in the Estate Planning Attorney category. Our attorneys have experience developing complex estate plans, including plans that have distributed millions of dollars to many different individuals and protected minor children from unnecessary guardianship proceedings. Whether you need an intricate estate plan or a more standardized will, Burrows Law Group will meet your needs and offer you the peace of mind of knowing you and your family will be protected after you pass away.
If you would like to speak to an attorney, contact us to schedule a consultation. We’d love to help you develop the perfect plan for you and your family.