If you are asking this question the answer is probably, YES!
As a Houston divorce attorney and family lawyer practicing in the Houston, Sugarland, Katy, Harris County, Fort Bend County, and surrounding counties in Texas, I prepare a lot of Wills, and handle quite a few probate matters. The Houston, Texas, Katy, Tx, Sugar Land, Texas, Harris County, Fort Bend County, and surrounding area is densely populated, and it is this density of population that makes it even more important for my clients to have there affairs in order. The first thing I ask almost all of my clients is whether they have a Will and/or whether their Will is up-to-date.
A Will is a document that tells everyone how, upon your death, you want your assets distributed and to whom. If you don’t have a Will the State of Texas has one for you, and you are probably not going to like it. If you want control over how your assets are distributed you must have a Will. Whether you live in Houston, Texas, Katy, Tx, Sugar Land, Texas, Harris County, Fort Bend County, or any other county in Texas, if you have a Will prepared in Texas the probate laws of Texas should apply equally to your Will when it is submitted to the appropriate Probate Court.
For a Will to be valid it must be executed with the formality required by Law. In many cases Texas Law provides for Independent Administration of Wills during probate, which is a cost effective and efficient method of probating a Will. In order to take advantage of this method of probate you must have the proper language in your Will. To be sure you have the proper provisions in the Will you should hire an Attorney experienced in preparing Wills.
A Will Can Do More Than Distribute Your Estate Assets Upon Your Death
Your Will can include trust provisions that limit when your beneficiaries will receive their share of the assets (i.e. upon reaching a certain age). Why is this beneficial? Ask yourself, when you were eighteen (18) years old how responsible would you have been with $10,000.00 or $100,000.00 or $1,000,000.00?
In my experience as a Texas Family Lawyer and Probate Attorney I have witnessed this scenario, and the results are almost always tragic. One of the first lines of defense in protecting your kids from their own financial immaturity and real world predators is to include a Trust in your Will.
In preparing your Will you will be asked to name or appoint certain individuals to serve as trustee for your beneficiaries until the trust terminates. The benefit of such a trust provision is that the trustee can distribute portions of the trust proceeds, as needed, to the beneficiary for his/her benefit (i.e. tuition, living expenses, etc..) until the beneficiary meets the trust termination requirements. The trustee protects the funds, and the beneficiary still receives the benefit of the funds until the trust terminates. Again, this is just an overview of the benefits of a trust. You need to consult an Attorney qualified in drafting Wills and Trusts so that the Trust in your Will is prepared in accordance with your particular facts and circumstances.
In addition to trust provisions, your Will can include Guardianship provisions for your children who are under eighteen (18) years of age. You should know that guardianship provisions are subject to the rights of other individuals who have a superior right to guardianship (i.e. a biological mother or father) regardless of where they live (i.e. Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Harris County, Fort Bend County etc…) Guardianship provisions can be critical to the well being of your children, and they provide clear instruction on who you want your children to be raised by when you pass away.
In conclusion, YES! you need a Will. And, if you have kids and/or a spouse and/or own property you need it IMMEDIATELY! The financial and emotional consequences of not having a Will when you pass away are substantial. It is better to spend several hundred dollars now on a well prepared Will, and avoid having your loved ones spend thousands of dollars later, in probate, because you did not have a Will. Besides, a Last Will and Testament does more than just distribute your assets on death. It can serve to protect the financial future of your beneficiaries through Trust Provisions, and their personal and emotional well being through Guardianship provisions.
Protect your financial future and the future of your loved ones now, and contact the Law Office of Daniel E. McCarty, Jr. at (713) 464-7000 to schedule an appointment with an Attorney to have your Texas Last Will and Testament drafted for your specific needs. Mr. McCarty is an experienced lawyer you can trust with over two decades of experience drafting estate planning documents for his clients.
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