While most of you know that I primarily practice in the Construction Law arena, I am also very passionate about the necessity of Estate Planning / Wills.
This year has been an eventful year in many respects. One of the most unusual surrounds one of my probate cases. This isn’t an ordinary probate case but involves 65 heirs. I know, you are probably asking yourself how anyone can even have 65 heirs. The problem here? The woman died without executing a will. She had no parents, no husband, no children, and no siblings. However, her parents had siblings, who had siblings, who had siblings, and so forth. Confused? Believe me, so is the Court and everyone associated with this case. I knew that the woman had seen an attorney about drafting a will but had just never followed through with her resolution. The result was an unqualified mess which cost many man hours and a large financial commitment to unwind.
Below is an article that Iike to post at the beginning of each year because I think it is a good idea to make creating/updating your Will a New Year’s resolution at least every 5 years:
One of the reasons that people have the same resolutions year after year is that nobody actually develops a Plan of Action to accomplish these goals. I started thinking about a Plan of Action in the context of the number one resolution I see as an attorney – the Estate Plan.
I think that a majority of the reasons why most people do not follow-through on their Estate Planning goal is fear. Within the age of blended families, most people do not want to deal with the issues of how to divide their assets, who to manage their estates, and who to take care of her children. However, do you really want the alternative? If you die without a will, named executors, trustees and guardians, the good Ole State of Texas decides for you. Since when did the State of Texas do something purely in your best interest? I think we all know the answer to that question – NEVER!
So, what do you do? I would suggest that a Plan of Action would be a good idea for any resolution that you truly want accomplished. This Plan might help you overcome your fears and accomplish your goals.
So, what should your Plan of Action be in accomplishing your estate planning goals?
- I would suggest you contact your local law firm to obtain an Estate Planning Information sheet to help guide you through the process. For your convenience, we have one located on our website at http://www.kmdalegal.com.
- Go through the Estate Planning Information sheet and fill out all information that you can, concentrating on who you would appoint as executor, health care power of attorney, power of attorney, and guardian. One thing that you should remember is that you must have at least one successor person.
- Determine whether or not, especially if you have small children, you are going to want a Trust to distribute funds to your children if something should happen to you and, if applicable, to your spouse.
- Make a list of all of your assets (both community and separate property assets), the value of the assets, and if there are beneficiary designations already in place, the names and addresses of all beneficiaries.
- Using your list of assets, develop a plan of what you would like distributed to who.
- After you have filled out what you can on the Information Sheet, it is time to make an appointment to visit your attorney about any questions you might have. A good attorney should be able to help you explore different options relating to any concerns you might have about your Estate Plan. Often times, this process is not as difficult as it first appeared.
- During your visit with your attorney, you should be able to fully complete the Information Sheet and hand the majority of the work over to the attorney to draft your Estate Planning documents.
- Once your attorney has drafted your Estate Planning documents, you only have to come in and execute the documents.
While your Plan of Action might have a few less steps or a few more steps, as you can see, when it is written down it looks more manageable. Don’t let this be another failed resolution, whether it is an Estate Plan or some other resolution; create your Plan of Action and most of all, stick to it!