One of the least pleasant things to think about when it comes to planning for your life in that of your family is drafting a will. Necessarily, causes you to consider your mortality and the fact that none of us are destined to be on earth forever. All of us our lives come to an end at some point. The question for all of us to answer is how well prepared are we for that eventuality and what can we do to better prepare ourselves and our families?
I can picture some of you reading this blog post and feeling rather an uncomfortable period that's good. Sometimes when we feel most been comfortable that we feel motivated to finally make a positive change in our lives. Many times we hesitate to do things in life because they are difficult or time-consuming or expensive. What if I told you that's there is something you could do to help plan for your family's future that did not require much in the way of fire, money, or effort. Rather, what if there was something we could do relatives in an expensive and did not require you to put forth a huge amount of money or time.
The deed thing that I am talking about is drafting a will. Drafting a will is not necessarily something that is going to get you excited but the potential impact on your life and other families can be significant. While there is set some degree of effort and time involved when it comes to drafting a will, I think you will find that the impact on the will Hales in comparison to the time spent drafting the document. Basically, but I will tell you few things in life come easy for most people reading this blog post drafting a will is the closest thing.
The illegal process do you think about something being incredibly compensating, expensive and laborious. A personal injury case, a divorce, or even the go-shooting contract for a business can take a fair bit of time to complete. However, a divorce is not like that. Rather, if you have all your ducks in a row and are well organized in terms of your goals for your state after your passing then divorce does not have to be something that it's a long time to complete. This is especially true if you work with an experienced probate state planning attorney.
Can you draft the will without an attorney?
This is one of the questions that I received with some frequency. Based on my experience, people see I'm not firing an attorney as being a way to bypass or skip a step in a legal process. So many reasons here's don't calling hey great video respect or are hot held in high opinion in the community at large. With that said, these people would be missing out on a great deal of benefit why he provided to them simply by hiring an attorney to help with the drafting of a will. Paragraph one thing to keep in mind is that drafting a will is a good first step toward's careful think of life planning. There is another end of life when's that must be considered review and anyone else reading this blog post but the drafting of we'll is certainly at the top of the list.
Some of you may be wondering what is well even does. Most everyone is familiar with wills in general but you may not be familiar with what they will do for you and your family. For instance, some people think about post-death circumstances for your family in terms of how much money they earned during their lifetime. The thought is that if they only earn enough money during their working lives that the rest will take care of themselves. While there certainly is some truth to this idea a high income can only do so much to protect your assets in your estate after your passing.
Hey, will allows you to determine where your assets go once you pass away. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that everyone out there would rather determine where their property ends up rather than have the government make that determination for you and your family. Think about the members of your family, friends, churches, or charitable organizations that could benefit from the property that you worked so hard to accumulate during your life. You have to ask yourself if that property will be better handled and utilized by your intended beneficiaries or by a probate court judge who would make these decisions for you based on how property is divided when there is no will in place.
One of the second things that I hear from people with frequency is that they feel like they do not need to create a will because they do not have much property. Their reasoning goes something along the lines of because they have relatively few assets that they don't have to have a will. After all, who cares if your brother or sister doesn't end up with a stick of chewing gum or a couple of video game controllers after you pass away? Aren't wheels intended for rich people?
The reality is that this could not be further from the truth. It is important for new to have a will whether you are wealthy, somewhere in the middle, or have relatively few assets. What I would like to do now is walk you through my rationale 4 why having a will is important no matter if you are someone with a lot of assets, relatively few assets, or no assets at all. Let's begin by examining why it is important for you as a wealthy person to have a will.
Why should you have a will if you are wealthy?
If you are someone who is reading this blog post and have a great deal of wealth then I'm going to assume that you gained that wealth due to hard work and planning. It is important to understand that not only can you build a great amount of wealth due to hard work and planning but you can also preserve that wealth and ensure that it is beneficial for the rest of your family and beyond after your passing. The reality is that if you've worked hard your entire life to build up a great deal of wealth then you likely do not want to leave it to chance on how that property is divided. Sure, it could be that a probate court judge divides the property up in a fashion that you would be pleased with. By the same token, it could be that the probate laws in Texas are not as hospitable and would leave you upset at how the property was divided.
It could happen that you are not close to your family or have children, acquaintances, or other entities that you would like to see wind up with the lion's share of your property after your passing. An example that I always like to give people is if you have a charity or religious organization that you are particularly fond of then leaving that charity or organization with a great deal of property under your will is a great way for you to have a legacy. In this way your will allows your wealth and success to live on through the efforts of those organizations in the future. This would not be possible under let's circumstance involving you not having a will.
If you wanted to leave millions of dollars to a church then no way could happen unless you had a will. Rather, the intestate laws of distribution of property would kick in and a family court judge would be forced to follow the law in terms of how to divide your assets after your death. This means that close families will be the typical beneficiaries under a scenario like this. Your specific wishes could not be followed because the law in Texas simply does not provide for charities or religious organizations to be able to trump immediate family members. It is only through the drafting of an enforceable and valid will that your true wishes can be made known to a court.
In many cases, you may have a family member such as a child, with who you do not agree with their lifestyle choices or generally speaking are not close. In terms of creating a legacy for yourself, it would be extremely beneficial from your perspective to avoid having to place the property in the hands of people who either do not trust or have other misgivings. Rather, why not take the time to create a will that allows your property to bypass these individuals and instead go towards people that are more deserving in your opinion.
The bottom line is that all of your hard work in creating wealth can be utilized to benefit countless numbers of people if you work to ensure that it's possible. Simply saying that you worked hard and that should be enough is not sufficient. Or other, you should be aware of just how a will can shape your financial future in terms of your state. Do not spend your life trying to do the right thing only to come up just short because you were unwilling to put forth a relatively small amount of effort, time, and money towards drafting a Will.
Why should you have a will if you are a middle-class person?
Most everyone reading today's blog posts will fall into this category. Those of us who are considered middle class may not have the wealth and assets of a wealthy person but neither do we struggle with finances like a person might if they cannot hold down employment or have a disability of some sort. Rather, middle-class people oftentimes convince themselves that is well is not necessary simply because they figure the law will take care of their spouse after they pass away and then their children do not stand to get much from them anyway. I put forth the time and effort when the law will simply divide the property up the way you want to?
It is true that if you were to pass away before your spouse that a life estate in the home would be provided to your spouse thus allowing him or her to live in the home as long as he or she is alive. At that point, the home cook would be divided up between your children or their descendants in equal shares. In many cases this is what people would want to do even with the will you know I've been presented with this scenario by people who are arguing against having a Will drafted.
However, I would need to counter the fact that middle-class people have oftentimes worked just as hard as a wealthy person to accumulate the house, retirement savings, personal property, and other assets as compared to a wealthy person. There is nothing wrong with working a nine-to-five job in doing it well and building a life for yourself and your family. As a result, you owe it to yourself just as much as a wealthy person to ensure that your family is provided for after you pass away.
The simple truth is that a middle-class person like you or I can provide our families and ourselves with a great deal of Peace of Mind by having a well-drafted. More advanced methods of estate planning may not even be necessary. Whereas wealthy people implement trusts and other state planning mechanisms into their later stage of life planning this probably isn't necessary for a middle-class person. However, a will is this sort of basic kind of late-life planning that should not be overlooked.
Why should you have a will if you are someone who lacks assets of any kind?
If you are someone who owns relatively little, has a great deal of debt, or otherwise does not have much to be distributed at your passing then you need a will, as well. If nothing else, having a will and other types of late-life planning can allow your family to access whatever funds you do have in a bank account to pay expenses for your burial or funeral. Without a will or something like a payable on death account through a bank, your family would have to go through a probate court to access any funds necessary for the end of your life.
This is an easy subject for those of you who do not have much in the way of property to ignore. What's the harm, you may be thinking, of not having a will. Well, I think we have seen that the more prepared you are for something the better off you will be. Drafting a will could be a small step towards responsibility and positive decision-making that you need to improve your life.
How much does it cost to draft a basic will in Texas?
This is the question that we asked at the beginning of today's blog post and is one that we can discuss in fairly short order here after the blog. For most of you reading today's blog posts, all you need is a relatively simple will which outlines your wishes in terms of property distribution at your death. With this in mind, a will would average in costs between $250 to $2500. Factors like the experience of the attorney drafting the will for you as well as the nature of your estate will help determine the ultimate cost.
Be wary of an attorney who says that they can draft a will for you for $50 or even $100. My concern isn't so much that they will mislead you into the final cost but that the will that is drafted will not be worth the paper that is printed on. Remember that their will is only impactful if a quote determines it to be valid. If your will is ever challenged in the future and brought inside of a courtroom then its validity may be in jeopardy. As a result, you want to make sure that the attorney drafting your will is experienced and knowledgeable in estate planning matters.
Finally, some law firms will designate the drafting of will to legal assistance or paralegals. The attorney may give the will a check over before sending it to a client but make no mistake it was the legal assistant or paralegal who does the lion's share of the work. This is a great reason for you to ask questions when meeting with a potential estate planning attorney to ensure that it is an attorney who will be doing the lion's share of the work associated with drafting a will.
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 or probate law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas probate and estate planning law as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by an estate planning or probate-related matter.