Wills Attorney in Houston, TX
Even though nearly everyone has heard of a will and knows what it does, far fewer people have actually written one. Drafting a will as a part of your estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of having a will—or are even questioning whether or not you need one in the first place—reach out to an estate planning attorney. Here at W. Timothy Weaver, Attorney at Law, I’m honored to help individuals and families plan for their future and move forward with confidence.
For guidance in and around the Houston region, including Conroe, Sugarland, Katy, and The Woodlands, set up a consultation with me to get started.
Overview of Wills
A will is one of the most basic elements of an estate plan and allows the testator (the person writing the will) to assign certain assets to be left to a named beneficiary as well as assign a legal guardian for any minor children (and even pets).
There are a few different types of wills that you may consider using but the most common is called a simple will, which is what most people think of when they imagine a will. There are a few other types that you may encounter such as:
Joint will: This kind of document is drafted by two spouses together—but these days, most attorneys advise against this, instead encouraging their clients to each draft their own individual will.
Holographic will: This is a handwritten will. In most states, including Texas, this is legally acceptable, but these wills can come with a host of complications. Handwritten wills can be contested more easily and therefore can possibly result in legal troubles and family in-fighting.
Pour-over will: A pour-over will is used in conjunction with a trust and works by ‘catching’ any assets that were not included in the trust for one reason or another and assigning them to beneficiaries.
Wills are used far and wide and can be an excellent way to leave different assets to loved ones. Some commonly inherited assets are:
Personal property like furniture, jewelry, art, family heirlooms, or cars
Real estate like homes, commercial property, or rental properties
Financial assets like IRAs, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, or other investments
Why Having a Will Is Important
One question I often get as an estate planning attorney is, “Who needs a will?” The answer is everyone. Many people think they’re too young or don’t have enough assets to warrant a will. However, a will can greatly alleviate the stress your family and loved ones will be going through if you suddenly pass away, as well as saving them time and money in the process. You’ll also be giving yourself peace of mind, knowing that your estate (no matter how small) is taken care of and you have made your final wishes known and legally enforceable. There are two other major things to understand about wills:
Dying Intestate: When you die without a will in place, it’s known as dying intestate. This means that there’s no legal direction about what should happen with any of your assets and instead the state must step in. When you don’t have a will, your assets will be distributed according to Texas’s intestate succession laws.
Probate: Probate is the legal process of “proving” someone’s will in court. The executor of the will must file the will with the court and then work with the judge to address all outstanding debts and contact beneficiaries before any assets can be distributed. This is often a time-consuming and costly procedure.
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
One last issue in estate planning that many people aren’t fully clear on is the difference between a will and a trust. Both documents allow a person to assign assets to a beneficiary, but they do so in a fundamentally different way. With a trust, you move assets into an account while you are still living and they are transferred into the name of a trustee. This means the assets no longer legally belong to you, so when you pass away they can be transferred directly to your beneficiary without having to go through probate.
Trusts can be more complicated to set up initially and can be more costly, but they do have the potential to reduce the burden put on your family after you pass away. That said, a will is much simpler to set up which may make it preferable to a trust.
Wills Attorney in Houston, Texas
If you live in the Houston, Texas, area and want to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney, contact me, W. Timothy Weaver, Attorney at Law to schedule a consultation. I have the knowledge and experience to craft a will catered to your needs.