Securing Your Legacy: The Advantages of Estate Planning

December 14, 2023

It is a common misconception that estate planning is only appropriate for the wealthy or people of a certain age, but these are common misconceptions. The main benefit of having an estate plan in place is to ensure that your last wishes are executed in the event that you pass away. Without an estate plan, your property is unprotected and the intestate succession laws will apply. This means people may inherit your assets, and those people may not align with your wishes.

In addition to making sure the appropriate loved ones receive their inheritance, an estate plan can also protect your beneficiaries from certain taxes and other legal requirements. Below, our Houston estate planning attorney outlines more benefits of having a plan in place.

Eliminate the Need for Your Family to Make Hard Decisions

Estate planning can provide your family with the peace of mind they will need following your death. If you do not have an estate plan in place, your family members will have to determine who will inherit certain property of yours, and this is often extremely stressful for families. By taking the time to create a comprehensive estate plan, you will retain control over what will happen to your property after you pass away.

Also, if you ever become incapacitated at some point in the future, your family will also have to make important medical decisions on your behalf. These decisions are also very difficult and your family may not know of your wishes. Through an estate plan, you can create a will, power of attorney, health care proxy, and a medical power of attorney. These important legal documents can dictate these decisions, so your loved ones do not have to make them. They can also give you the peace of mind you need during your lifetime.

Protect Your Children

If you still have minor children, an estate plan can determine what will happen to them if you pass away or become incapacitated and cannot care for them. For many parents, choosing a guardian for minor children is the most important aspect of estate planning. This is a decision that requires serious thought, as the impact on your children will be significant. Most parents want to make this decision on their own instead of the courts making the decision for them.

There are certain priorities the Texas courts give to family members when making decisions about guardianship. For example, in most cases, the courts will appoint a grandparent to become a guardian in the event that neither parent can care for their children. If you want someone else to become guardian of your children, it is critical that you create an estate plan that makes your wishes known.

Limit Taxes and Legal Fees

If you include certain documents in your estate plan, it can allow your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance in a timely manner. A trust, for example, will protect your family members from going through the probate process which can include legal fees, court costs, and attorney fees. Probate is not only an expensive process, but it is also a lengthy one. If your entire estate has to go through probate, it can take a long time for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance.

Trusts do not have to go through the probate process and so, the inheritance you left for loved ones can be distributed to them directly. It is important to work with a Houston estate planning lawyer who can advise on the best ways to limit taxes and legal fees.

Make Specific Bequests

Individuals commonly want to include certain bequests in their estate plan. Bequests are any gifts given to beneficiaries as part of a will. Bequests can include prized vehicles, art collections, family heirlooms, antiques, and more. There are also many different types of bequests. For example, a residuary bequest grants a person any remaining portion of the estate once all other property has been distributed.

Name Your Own Personal Representative

One of the most important aspects of any estate planning is the naming of a personal representative. A personal representative of any estate has many responsibilities. They must pay the expenses and final costs of the deceased, manage the estate, handle creditor claims, and more. Personal representatives have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate, so it is essential that the person you choose is trustworthy.

Without an estate plan in place, the court will name a personal representative on your behalf. This may not be the person you would have chosen. Creating an estate plan during your lifetime will give you the reassurance that upon your death, your personal representative will be someone you trust to make the best decisions.

Continue Business Operations After Your Death

If you own and operate a business and you do not create an estate plan, there is a real possibility that your death may cause the business to shut down. This will not only create unnecessary financial hardship and stress for your loved ones, but it may also lead to your legacy being unprotected. If you do want to pass your business down to a loved one as an inheritance, creating an estate plan will ensure they receive it after your death and that your legacy will be protected. An estate plan can also leave specific instructions for the family member you want to take over the business, so they can run it just as successfully as you did.

Call Our Estate Planning Lawyer in Houston to Get Started Today

Regardless of your situation, it is essential that all adults have an estate plan in place. At Integrity Law Group, PLLC, our Houston estate planning lawyer can help you draft the important documents that will help your family members make difficult decisions, and that will ensure your final wishes are fulfilled. Call us now at (832) 280-8874 or contact us online to request a consultation with our experienced attorney and to obtain the legal advice you need.

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