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Our Amarillo Estate Planning Attorneys Are Here To Answer Your Questions

Estate planning is a crucial process that involves preparing for the transfer of a person’s wealth and assets after their death. At Morgan Williamson, our Amarillo estate planning attorneys have extensive experience in these matters, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney and the probate process. Below are some of the top questions people often have about estate planning in Texas.

What is a will, and why do I need one in Texas?

A will is a legal document that specifies how your assets should be distributed after your death. In Texas, having a will helps to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes, rather than according to state intestacy laws, which apply if you die without a will.

What happens if I die without a will in Texas?

If you die without a will in Texas, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. The distribution depends on your family structure (e.g., whether you have a spouse, children, etc.). Generally, your closest relatives will inherit your assets, but this may not align with your personal wishes. Having a well-drafted, enforceable will helps to ensure that your wishes and your unique family situation are respected.

What is a durable power of attorney and why is it important?

A durable power of attorney is a document that grants someone else the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney is important because it ensures that someone you trust can manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself.

Do I need a trust in addition to a will?

While a will is typically regarded as the foundation of an estate plan, other estate planning tools such as trusts can be customized to address issues that a will cannot, such as minimizing tax obligations and keeping estate matters out of probate. Whether you need a trust in addition to a will depends on your personal circumstances. Trusts can offer benefits like avoiding probate, managing assets for minor children or dependents with special needs, and maintaining privacy. However, a trust can be more complex and costly to set up and maintain. Our estate planning attorneys can help determine if a trust is right for your situation.

What is probate, and how does it work in Texas?

Probate is the legal process of validating a will and distributing the deceased’s estate under court supervision. In Texas, probate involves proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid, identifying and inventorying the deceased’s property, having the property appraised, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there is no will) directs. The probate process often feels overwhelming for grieving family members tasked with handling the deceased’s estate. Our estate planning and probate lawyers can provide support and guidance in these matters.

How can I minimize estate taxes in Texas?

Texas does not have a state estate tax, but federal estate taxes may still apply if your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exemption limit. To minimize estate taxes, strategies such as giving gifts during your lifetime, setting up trusts and making charitable donations can be effective. It is advisable to work with an estate planning attorney to plan appropriately and leverage these strategies.

What is a living will, and do I need one in Texas?

A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a document that outlines your wishes regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your decisions. In Texas, a living will is important as it guides your healthcare providers and loved ones in making healthcare decisions according to your preferences.

How often should I update my estate plan?

It is recommended to review and possibly update your estate plan every three to five years or after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary, or a substantial change in financial status. Changes in law can also necessitate revisions to ensure that your estate plan remains effective and aligns with current legal standards.

Contact The Estate Planning Attorneys At Morgan Williamson

Estate planning can seem daunting, but it’s a vital step in ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are provided for in your absence. Consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the process and achieve peace of mind.

To set up a consultation, please call Morgan Williamson in Amarillo at 806-705-7546 or complete our contact form. Our estate planning and probate lawyers advise and represent clients throughout Texas.