New Year, New Beginnings! Free Will Giveaway at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

As the holiday season approaches, it’s natural to reflect on the past year and look forward to what the future holds in estate planning. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or ringing in the New Year, this time of year often inspires us to evaluate our achievements and set new goals. If you’re wondering whether you’ve accomplished all you set out to do in 2023, remember, there’s still time to end the year on a productive note.

One valuable goal to consider as you transition into 2024 is estate planning. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan in Texas, we’re dedicated to helping you achieve this important milestone. Led by the experienced Megone Trewick, our team of skilled estate planning attorneys is here to guide you through the process. Moreover, we’re excited to offer you a chance to win a FREE, all-expenses-paid simple will—a service valued at $3,000—just by signing up on our website. This exceptional offer is designed to give your 2024 a powerful start in managing your assets.

While you’re at it, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help you plan out your estate even if you are not the fortunate person to win this prize. Let’s start with this premise: every adult should have an estate plan. It does not matter if you are old or young, rich, or not so rich- you need to have a plan in place for getting your estate in order. Even the most general idea about an estate plan is better than on idea at all. 

With that said, in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan we are going to focus our attention on helping you prepare for your meeting with an estate planning attorney from our office. We are convinced that you will look at our website, read our blog posts investigate this free will give away, and be blown away by what we can offer you as an estate planning law firm. Therefore, let’s walk through how you can best prepare and begin to think about the estate planning process in Texas.

What is estate planning?

Before we discuss estate planning, let’s define what it involves. Estate planning means preparing your legal affairs for potential incapacity or death. Sometimes referred to as end-of-life planning, it often includes specific medical arrangements, though it encompasses more than just medical concerns. An estate plan is not just about creating a will or trust; it’s about considering your life, your family, and your goals, and integrating these aspects into a cohesive plan.

An effective estate plan covers your finances, medical care, child guardianship, and property management. Knowing you’ve thoroughly prepared your estate provides peace of mind. Remember, you’re not only organizing your affairs for your own benefit but also easing the burden on your family during difficult times. By planning your estate, you’re doing as much for your family as you are for yourself.

Talk with your family and be communicative 

Fortunately for you, numerous estate planning methods are available. As you explore these options, consider each on its merits. We strongly recommend consulting with an experienced attorney at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. They can guide you through various strategies that could benefit you and your family.

One crucial mistake to avoid is failing to communicate with your family about your estate plan. Creating a plan without discussing it leaves the process incomplete. Open communication is essential to ensure everyone understands your intentions and the steps you’ve taken.

After finalizing your estate plan, take time to discuss it with your family. You don’t need to justify every decision or step, but it’s vital to explain the plan and the documents involved once everything is settled. You can also invite their input during the planning phase.

Here’s how you might approach it: gather all involved family members and review your estate plan together. Explain the necessary actions after your passing and keep your documents in a central, easily accessible location. This prevents your grieving family from having to search for these documents scattered across different places.

If your estate documents name an executor or estate administrator, ensure this person knows how to inventory property, manage debts, and navigate the administration process. While creating an estate plan can often circumvent probate, it’s wise to prepare for all possibilities. Discuss what probate entails with your attorney, and plan how to communicate these details to your family. An attorney from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help draft your documents and facilitate these discussions.

This approach clarifies the distribution of your assets and responsibilities, reducing uncertainty and potential conflicts among family members. It’s better to address any concerns directly now than to leave issues for your executor to handle. Being clear is a kindness to your family and your legacy.

What are the different methods to plan your estate?

The first method of estate planning that we should all be somewhat familiar with is a will. A will is the tried-and-true method of estate planning in this country. This is a legal document that instructs a person you appoint called your executor on how to administer your estate once you pass away. This means that you will be able to instruct the executor on how to distribute your assets once your debts are all handled. Note that before property in a will can be distributed your executor must make sure that all creditors of your estate are satisfied under the law. If no property exists once creditors are made whole, then your beneficiaries under the will receive nothing. 

Dying without a will- what it can mean for your estate and your family

Dying without a will is known as dying intestate, and in Texas, this means the state decides how to divide your property. Typically, your spouse and children will inherit most of your assets in such cases. If you have no spouse or children, distant relatives like parents, cousins, and aunts may receive your property.

You might think this arrangement sounds fine, especially if you plan to leave your assets to your spouse and children anyway. However, letting a judge distribute your special assets according to your wishes is risky. You certainly wouldn’t want a judge to determine the fate of the property you worked hard for. This situation could also prove distressing for your family members.

If you pass away without a will and prefer not to leave your assets to your family, the law will not accommodate your personal preferences. It won’t allocate your property to a church or charity based on your desires. The law simply enforces standard rules on your estate. If you have specific intentions for your assets that don’t involve your family, creating a will is essential. This step in estate planning ensures your final wishes are respected after your death.

What is probate?

Probate is a term often heard in estate planning. Many people engage in estate planning specifically to avoid probate, which is a court’s method of distributing your property after you die. An effective estate plan can allow your estate to bypass the probate process. Even if your estate must go through probate, having a will ensures that your wishes are respected.

Generally, people aim to avoid probate because of the associated costs and time delays. All probate expenses come out of your estate, which means less money for your beneficiaries as court costs take priority. It’s crucial to have a clear plan for your assets to ensure they reach the intended recipients.

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help you devise a strategy to achieve your estate planning goals. This guidance is vital for directing your assets precisely where you want them and minimizing the impact of probate on your estate.

Trusts- what are they and what are the different types?

Creating a trust involves forming a contract where a trustee manages property on your behalf. As the grantor, you dictate the terms under which beneficiaries can access the property in the future. Trusts can hold a variety of items, including cash, real estate, personal property, and investments, based on their monetary or sentimental value.

Often, parents use trusts to secure property for their children until they reach adulthood. For instance, you might want each of your children to receive $50,000 upon graduating from college. Until then, a trust can safely invest and protect that money.

Another advantage of estate planning with a trust is the speed of asset distribution after your death, bypassing the often lengthy probate process.

A living trust allows you to manage property both during your lifetime and after your passing, unlike a testamentary trust, which only takes effect after death and is created within your last will.

It’s important to understand the difference between a revocable and an irrevocable trust. With a revocable living trust, you can alter or cancel the trust anytime after its creation. Conversely, an irrevocable living trust cannot be changed once established. All trusts become irrevocable upon the grantor’s death.

Pre-planning your estate

Before creating an estate plan, it’s wise to engage in thorough pre-planning. Start by listing all your assets, both tangible and intangible. Tangible assets include cars, household items, jewelry, real estate, and other personal properties. Intangible assets cover retirement savings, bank accounts, cryptocurrency, and other valuable items you can’t physically hold.

Next, carefully consider your debts. Organize details about mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards, and personal loans. Remember, your property cannot be distributed to beneficiaries under a will or trust until all debts are settled. For your trustee or executor’s sake, make sure your debts are well-documented to avoid confusion during property distribution.

Also, think about who should inherit your assets. This decision can be complex, especially with a large potential beneficiary pool. Consider who would benefit most from specific assets or who has special connections to particular items. For instance, you might want a cherished grandchild to inherit a meaningful book or painting.

Thorough pre-planning minimizes potential disputes or hurt feelings when distributing your property. An experienced estate planning attorney can offer valuable guidance in planning this crucial step.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate planning attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way to learn more about the world of Texas estate planning as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a probate case. 

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