One of the most considerate things Texas residents can do for their loved ones is to make sure that their estate plan is in order. Creating an estate plan checklist can help with ensuring all of the necessary documents are in place.
Every estate plan should include a will, which allows individuals to dictate how their assets should be allocated when they have passed. The document is also used to specify who should serve as executor for the estate. The executor will have the legal duty of paying off any taxes and debts owed by the estate and then distributing the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.
If an individual dies without having a will completed, their estate will have to go through the probate process. Probate is a time consuming and expensive procedure that will prevent surviving loved ones from receiving their inheritances in a timely manner.
While a will is an important part of an estate plan, it is far from the only legal document that should be included. It is important that individuals include an advance health care directive, or a health care power of attorney, in their estate plan so that their preferences regarding medical treatment are known if they become incapacitated. It is also wise for individuals to include a durable power of attorney so that their financial concerns can be taken care of when they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
Attorneys who practice estate administration and probate law may provide a variety of services for individuals with estate planning concerns. The attorney may evaluate a client's assets and may recommend certain legal devices to use to protect their assets for future generations; various types of wills and trusts may be suggested. The attorney may also litigate to resolve disputes regarding contested wills.