What Is A Will?

What Is A Will?

A will is a document whereby the testator can name beneficiaries to receive property upon their passing. It can also define other roles, such as the executor, who would be the person to wind up the estate.  It could designate guardians for minor children and provide for the care of pets. If there is a contingent trust named within the will, then it can name trustees and can also provide for alternates in all of those roles.

Benefits And Limitations Of A Will In Estate Planning

The benefits of a will are that it gives the testator control over the fate of their estate. That testator can define who gets what and how it’s disposed of. It also simplifies the process for the executor. It would take more time and more expense to probate the estate without a will as compared to when there is a valid will.

Some of the limitations are apparent when people download wills from the internet and try to create their own documents. Whether they have the proper language, are not drafted properly, or they have intended one thing and inadvertently written another, we often see unintended consequences from poorly drafted wills.

Do I Even Need A Will If I Already Have Other Estate Planning Tools In Place?

There are certain estates that, with the proper planning, can be set up to not require probate. With some proper planning, if there’s any real property, it could be set up, through a transfer on death deed, to pass to someone outside of probate. Financial accounts can be set up with beneficiary designations. Life insurance and retirement plans can be set up with beneficiary designations. Bank accounts can be set up with either the right of survivorship or payable on death benefits. We usually still recommend having a will, just in case there are any assets that are overlooked when someone is attempting to establish an estate that completely bypasses probate.

Difference Between A Will And A Trust

Wills are primarily to designate beneficiaries, the disposition of assets upon passing, and the roles of people such as executor, guardian, or trustee.

There are many different types of trusts and they’re built for a specific purpose. One of the most common trusts would be a living trust that is set up to avoid probate. In many other states, these are used because probate is much more complicated.

There are trusts dealing with large estates to minimize the estate tax paid. There are trusts set up for receiving government benefits for people who have special needs. There are trusts to satisfy many different purposes in an estate plan. Occasionally there’s a need for a trust, but, by and large, much of the population in Texas doesn’t really need a trust. We address that on a case by case basis.

Is A Will Ever Enough As An Effective Estate Planning Measure On Its Own?

A will alone is not enough. We would recommend having at least powers of attorney to go with the will. People tend to think only of death, and not what will happen if they are incapacitated. Many times, it’s even more important to deal with the things that may arise while you’re still alive. Powers of attorney will allow you to designate someone who can take care of those things for you, during your lifetime, if you are unable to.

For more information on Wills In The State Of Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (830) 625-9300 today.