Having a Will properly drafted by an attorney is one of the wisest investments you can make. A life changing event (such as COVID-19, marriage, divorce, having children, etc….) should trigger each of us to pull out our Will (if we have one) and look at it to make sure that the Will still reflects our desires and intentions. If your Will needs to be revised or you don’t have Will, a life changing event should motivate you to set an appointment an attorney to discuss your Will.
Basically, a Will is a written document in which the testator (person signing the will) states to whom his or her property should pass upon death. The Will should contain a provision for the appointment of an independent executor and alternate executor. The executor is the person who handles the probate of your estate. The Will can also establish a trust and name a guardian and alternate guardian for minor children. It is important that the Will is correctly written and properly signed – hence the need for an attorney.
Probate occurs after a person dies. Essentially, probate is the process by which the deceased person’s property is transferred to the people named in the will. In Texas, provided the Will is properly drafted and executed, probate is a fairly streamlined process. On the other hand, if a person dies and does not have a will, administering the estate is often complicated, time consuming, and very costly.
Bank accounts, IRA’s, investment accounts, life insurance, and any account for which there is a beneficiary do not pass through the will and are not a part of the probate. Instead, these kinds of property go to the named beneficiary.
A person can also simplify things by doing the following:
- By making sure that all bank accounts have right of survivorship provisions,
- By authorizing another person to have access to all safety deposit boxes,
- By providing the executor and alternate executor with a copy of the Will,
- By providing the executor and alternate executor with a list of all accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, debts, and
- By providing the executor and alternate executor with a description of and the location of all big-ticket items property.
The process to obtain a will is simple and does not require a face to face meeting with an attorney. Although strategizing with an attorney about your Will can take place in person, those meetings can also be accomplished by phone calls or zoom. After you provide your attorney with the necessary information, the attorney drafts the will and then sends it to you for you to read. Once the will is in final form and each of your questions have been answered, you sign the will.
By taking the time now to make these plans, you will save those you love lots of money, time, and stress in the future.