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Hazards of Will Planning in Texas

How often have we been told by family, advisors, and friends, “Do you have a Will?” While a Will is certainly better than no Will, so too is a bicycle with only one flat tire better than a bicycle with two flat tires. Many people are unaware of the many hazards and inadequacies of a Will based estate plan. Please consider the following:

  • The first rule of Wills: A Will is not a Will until a judge says it is. If you only have a will, you guarantee your family will have to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit in court. Court proceedings may be expensive and time-consuming.
  • Notice of the court proceeding must be given to certain relatives who may be difficult or impossible to locate. If there is a disabled child, the court will appoint a lawyer to represent that child’s interests, including preparing a report to the court, and your estate must pay that attorney’s fees.
  • Having to probate a Will may lead to delays preventing needed funds from getting to a surviving spouse or to children. It is fairly common for real estate to be tied up while the probate process drags on, causing potential buyers to be lost. In some cases, stock cannot be sold even though it may be falling in value rapidly.
  • Since the will is filed in court it becomes a public record. Anyone may go to the courthouse and order a copy of your will to see what assets you owned and who you left it to.
  • Since notice must be given to the heirs you may have intentionally left out, or left less than they may feel they are entitled to, you run the risk of a Will contest if your estate is distributed in anything but equal shares.
  • Guardianship. A Will is only effective once you die. Many people will eventually become disabled, and since a Will cannot provide for disability, you risk sending your family to court for guardianship proceedings if ever you were to become disabled. These proceedings often occur later in life when someone becomes unable to handle their affairs and does not have an adequate plan set up for disability. Disabilities also come up after serious accidents or medical emergencies such as stroke and heart attack. In a guardianship, the court will appoint someone to handle your affairs. Not only may it not be the person you would have chosen, it may not even be someone you know.

So, How can you Avoid the Hazards of Will Planning?

Revocable Living Trusts, which take effect while you are living, are considered a highly effective tool to avoid the hazards of Will planning.

A Revocable Living Trust avoids guardianship proceedings because you have already chosen or appointed a Trustee to take care of your financial affairs when needed. This Trustee takes over your financial affairs quickly and without the need to file a lawsuit with the court if ever you become disabled. Your Trustee can make sure you are comfortable, pay your bills, and manage your investments without the constant oversight of the court and without disclosing your private matters on public record.

After you die, because a Trust doesn’t require probate, your financial affairs are kept private and your trustee can quickly manage your assets according to your desires without court intervention.

In short, when someone tells you that you need a Will, think again. It may be a Trust that you need instead.

For more information about Hazards of Will Planning, please click here to select a seminar to attend and register today!

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Vacek & Thain, PLLC serves Texas families with their estate planning, estate tax planning, charitable planning, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, Heritage trusts, wills, power of attorney, family limited partnerships, advanced asset protection planning, declaration of guardian for minor children, healthcare documents, will based estate planning and the hazards of will planning, special needs estate planning, estate administration and trust administration. Contact Vacek & Thain, PLLC if you or your loved ones reside in the Houston, Texas area, including: Katy, Cinco Ranch, Mission Bend, Pecan Grove, Richmond, Rosenberg, Greatwood, Sugar Land, Meadows Place, Bellaire, Fresno, Pearland, South Houston, Spring Valley Village, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Friendswood, and more!

Copyright © IMS. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement. Some artwork provided under license agreement.