Estate Planning Series – Post #1: Do I Need a Will?

We get asked this question often – and it’s a good question! Most people in Texas do need a Will.  Anyone who has an investment account (IRA, pension, 401k, stocks, or other accounts) should have a Will.  If you have children, a Will is vitally important.  If something happens to you, you want your children to be taken care of by people you trust.  In your Will, you can designate a guardian to take care of your children or a Trustee to take care of their inheritance while they are minors.  While there are certain circumstances where a person might not need a Will, it is difficult to predict whether your life circumstances may change in the future.  You are far better off with a Will that you do not use, than hoping you do not need one and having to deal with time-consuming and costly court proceedings.

You may have heard that if you don’t have a Will, your things will go to your “next of kin.”  That is partially true.  Texas statutes provide a “will” for you if you do not have one.  Typically your property, your accounts, and all of your things will pass by statute to your next of kin.  However, your heirs may need to go to court to prove up who exactly constitutes “next of kin.”  This is called a proceeding to Determine Heirship and is an expensive and difficult filing.  On the other hand, if you have a Will, your heirs can offer your Will to the court for probate.  Probate means “proof” in Latin and the probate process in Texas is a much simpler, cheaper process than a proceeding to Determine Heirship.  In addition, a Will allows you to pass your assets to friends, family, and charities of your choosing.

If you’re uncertain as to whether you might need a Will, give us a call (254) 300-7909 or come in and see us. We’d be happy to help.


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