What are the benefits of creating a will as a veteran?

As a member of the military, you likely have some services and programs available to you where you can access assistance when it comes to your estate planning. For most people that means the creation of a will and perhaps a trust. Certainly, these are benefits made available to you through your military service and you have earned the right to use them. At the very least you should ask around to see if they have any information which may be helpful to you. In the short term, you may be able to learn something which can help you create a will- whether you decide to use the service provided for you, or not.

As a veteran, there may be specific portions of your estate plan which you would like to pay attention to more than others. For example, do you have work responsibilities that take you out of the country? If so then you may not be able to rely upon your spouse or another relative to make medical decisions on your behalf. If this is the case, then you need to seriously think about creating a medical power of attorney for your specific situation which allows another person that you trust to be able to step in and make decisions on your behalf when it comes to medical situations. This is important especially if you are in a dangerous situation where you may need to seek emergency medical care.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to creating a will. The first school of thought is that you could create a will on your own. A handwritten will is valid in Texas. You can find a piece of paper and write down the basics of a will, sign it, and then you may be good to go. However, the downside of a handwritten will is that it can be more easily challenged in court in terms of validity and authenticity. Also, handwritten will probably show that you are writing the will quickly and may not have considered all the fundamentals of the will as you should have. A handwritten will is also referred to as a holographic will if you are curious.

You can also use various online will-builder websites to create your will. Countless websites will use their forms and whatnot to create a will for you. Simply fill in your name, your spouse’s name, and your children, and then answer a few questions about beneficiaries and others regarding your property. From there you can be good to go. The downside of using a will-creation website is that you have no idea if the website is drafting your will according to the most up-to-date laws in Texas. What if your will contains a provision that is barred until Texas law? This may be a reason for the validity of your will to be challenged moving forward.

The other downside that comes to mind when you are talking about creating a will using a website form-builder is that the website is probably using artificial intelligence to help create the document. Look, I am not anti-technology. I realize that AI is the way of the future- whether I like it or not. However, that does not mean that I think a computer can draft a will better than a human being who can apply current circumstances, changes in the law, and their experience in helping others create a will. All AI can do is draft your will based on your inputs and its catalog of information. If your best outcome is not found in their catalog of information, then you are out of luck. You’ll get a will but it won’t be the best one that could have been made for you.

The other option for you to consider when it comes to creating a will is to have an experienced estate planning attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan look at your situation with you and take the time to help you create a will that can help you and your family now and in the future. As a veteran, you may be thinking that you have a job that presents you with more daily risk than most people, but it also presents you with less free time. How can an attorney in Houston, TX, and the surrounding area help you if you are across the country or the globe?

Here’s how. We offer free-of-charge consultations with our experienced estate planning attorneys six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. We are flexible as to how we can meet with you and want to be able to provide you with information that can help you figure out how best to approach your estate planning situation. That these consultations are free of charge and hopefully will encourage you to look us up and take advantage of the opportunity to grow your knowledge of estate planning. Let our attorneys act as a teacher and then you can do with that knowledge whatever you feel is best for you. We would be honored if we could represent you in an estate planning matter and help you plan a great future for you and your family.

How can a will be drafted quickly and easily for you?

One of the most common misconceptions which I have heard about wills is that they are difficult to draft. I don’t know where this idea came from, but it is out there. It may have something to do with every television show and movie depicting wills and trusts as being only for rich people- specifically, older, rich people. This is not the reality of the situation, however. Every person who is over the age of 18 needs a will. It doesn’t matter how much property you own, whether you are married or any of that. Having a will is something that all of us adults can do for ourselves, our families, and our legacies.

With that said, even if you know that a will would be helpful and responsible for you and your family another hurdle between knowing that a will is good and getting the will drafted is the time commitment that it would take to create the will. Being in the military means that your time is extremely limited. You may have occasional periods where you can take leave and attend to personal matters but the brief moments in time where you have Internet and phone access may not best be spent with you drafting a will. Certainly, rushing through an online will creation website would not be an effective use of your time.

If you anticipate having any amount of free time coming up during your military service, then you can try to create your own will. Again, this is not something that I recommend necessarily, and it would certainly be preferable for you to work with an experienced estate planning attorney when it comes to creating your will. There are just so many circumstances that you need to account for as a member of the military that you are likely unaware of as someone who does not work in this field as our attorneys do.

Secondly, when you have limited amounts of time using a website to build your will could be an option that you take advantage of. If you have as simple as state and minimal property that you own this may be an option that you investigate. You would need to be able to trust that the information you are inputting into your computer is kept safe and that you are utilizing a reputable service. However, if you truly are in a situation where you do not have internet access then you may want to consider drafting a will using a pen and paper. This is a tried-and-true method of creating a will in Texas and may well have been the way that your grandfather or great-grandfather created his will. There is nothing wrong with creating a will using pen and paper but there are certain elements that you need to concern yourself with that you otherwise may not have to.

One thing that I will note for you is that failing to create a will can lead to stress in your life. Nobody is doubting the amount of responsibility that is on your metaphorical plate. We have work responsibilities, social responsibilities, and family responsibilities. If you are currently serving in the military then you are in a position where you are very likely committed entirely to a mission or objective currently. Not necessarily being able to take on the responsibilities of estate planning and other necessary objectives can be a source of stress in and of itself. For that reason, you should take advantage of every opportunity that you get to create a will and prepare yourself for what is to come as far as your life and that of your family moving forward.

Creating a handwritten will can be especially productive if you have a simple estate. Let’s imagine a situation where you are a gentleman in his mid-40s with a wife and two children who are adults. This may be a perfect opportunity for you to be able to create your own will on your own time, very quickly. The traditional thing for a husband to do in his will is to leave everything to his wife should he predecease her. His wife would then create a mirror image will where she would leave everything to her husband should she predecease him. Depending upon your specific circumstances and your wishes you may very well want to create a will that looks something like this.

If you are dead set against contacting an attorney, you can write all of this down on a legal pad or a simple piece of printer paper. Depending upon how quickly and legibly you can write this may be an exercise that you can complete in five minutes or less. While we are on the subject, it is very important that your writing be clear and legible. There is already going to be some degree of skepticism surrounding a handwritten will. This just comes with the territory of choosing to create a holographic will. For that reason, you should make sure that all the writing on your will can be understood by anyone. It is not as if you will get the benefit of the doubt from a probate court if your will is not completely legible.

Once you decide to leave the lion’s share of property to your wife it is likely done with the assumption that your wife is going to leave all your property and hers to your children when she passes away. You will also need to name an executor in your will who would likely be your wife. If your wife predeceases you then you may want to name a secondary executor. This could be one of your children or someone completely different. The executor is someone who executes your wishes as contained in the will itself.

No matter who you choose to be the executor of your will you need to select someone responsible, trustworthy, and is someone with a basic level of intelligence. If your will has to go through the probate process, certain steps will need to be followed. In that event, he or she should be comfortable with going through a legal process, attending court dates, and providing updates to the court periodically. Part of this process involves inventorying all your property notifying any creditors of your passing and then ultimately distributing property to beneficiaries.

If you have ever created a prior will then you will need to revoke any prior wills or codicils in a subsequent will that you create. This can be done through something as simple as stating that you revoke all prior wills and codicils in the first paragraph of your will. A codicil is an amendment or addition to a will that usually comes in the form of a second or third document which is attached to the backside of your will.

Why creating your own will is not a great idea for most people

Even though we have walked through an explanation as to why creating a will yourself may be a good idea for you and your family there are many more reasons why using a professional to help you do so is a better plan of action. For one, there is a certain peace of mind which comes with being able to know that someone with experience and knowledge drafted your document. Staying up to date on the key changes in estate planning law in Texas is not something that you are guaranteed when it comes to an online will creator. The same can be said for you drafting your own will by hand. Don’t leave it to chance. The rate of success for having an experienced estate planning attorney draft your will is much higher than any other source.

Next, your estate may be more complex than you give it credit for. Real estate, debts, and specific plans for specific children. Taking care of your spouse after you are gone. What about if you have minor children? How are you going to provide for them if you and your spouse die at the same time? Do you know how to create a testamentary trust to hold all your assets for your children until they reach certain age milestones? All of these are relevant considerations and one that you should not pass by just because you have the option in Texas to do a handwritten will.

Lastly, I would simply ask you if you changed your oil. Even if you do that- do you fill your cavities? What about when you go to a restaurant- do you jump into the kitchen and grill your steak? No, no, and no. In life, there are certain activities that we do not perform on our own all the time. Can you perform certain legal actions yourself? Sure. However, we defer certain actions to other people who have more experience and knowledge than we do. I’m sure that if I needed my taxes done, landscaping cleaned up, cavities filled, or any other service you may be better suited than myself or any of the other attorneys with our office to accomplish that. However, when you need a will created or an estate planned for you can do no better than the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

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