Why You Should Have a Will
Some people find it difficult to talk about having a will. Somehow they think, on some level, that if they don't talk about it, they'll never need one. Other people think their estates are not large enough to do any advance planning or that everything they have will go to their spouse, anyway, so there is no need for a will. I disagree with all of those ideas and here's why.
Choose the Executor of Your Will
Whether or not you have a will, upon your death someone (your executor) will have to dispose of your estate (all of your property). With a will, you get to choose who that person will be; without a will, that person (the administrator) is chosen by a judge.
Choose Your Beneficiaries
Someone is going to inherit from you. With a will, you get to choose your beneficiaries (those who inherit); without a will, the Texas legislature has already figured that out for you. It is likely that the statutory distribution of your estate is not at all what you want.
Leave Gifts to Charity
With a will, you can choose to leave gifts to charity; You can also choose to give certain items to specific people. Without a will, all your assets are grouped together and the court appointed administrator is required to distribute your property in compliance with the statutory rules.
Minimal Court Oversight
If you name your executor in a will, that person can dispose of your estate with minimal court oversight and no bond; without a will, the administrator has to get court approval to take most actions.
If you have minor children, your will can name a guardian to care for the children in the event of the death of you and your spouse; without a will, a court will decide who is going to raise your children.
Create a Trust
If you have children or other beneficiaries who are not able to handle funds, you can create a trust in your will and name a trustee to deal with any funds left to those beneficiaries. You even get to set the terms of the trust, what the funds are to be used for and when the beneficiaries will be allowed to manage their own funds. Without a will, children or other underage beneficiaries get control of their funds at age 18, whether or not they are capable of handling money.
If you have a will, probate is relatively simple and inexpensive in Texas. Without a will, the probate of your estate will be more complex and therefore, more costly. Every time your administrator goes to court to ask for permission to do something with your estate, he is accompanied by a lawyer, and that takes money that otherwise would be going to your beneficiaries if you had a will.
Plan Your Will Now
Still not convinced? Think of a will as a gift to your family. The death of a loved one is always traumatic. By planning now, you remove some of the burden of their loss and help them through the difficult times ahead.
Experienced Lawyer to Prepare a Will
A simple will, even one that contains trusts for children, is not difficult for an experienced estate planning attorney to prepare. Typically, the attorney will recommend that a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney be prepared at the same time. It's not expensive. It's you taking care of business and giving a very valuable gift to your family.