Blogs :: I'm Young and Healthy. Why Do I Need a Will?

Recently, a young couple with a baby hired us to create a Wills package for each of them. They had a family friend who died without a Will and they saw the difficulty the surviving spouse had to endure. They made the sound decision to take care of this early so they would not face the same situation as their friend.

There are good reasons to take care of Estate Planning early and we often advise our clients to learn the potential difficulties that may be faced should they die without a Will. To be clear, Estate Planning does not mean the individual has a mansion, boat, and stock options. Estate Planning refers to the planning of distribution of any assets and elects who will be responsible for your minor children should both parents not survive past the children's age of majority (in Texas, this is age 18). In most cases, this includes the creation of Wills and Trusts. These are state-specific and it's important to hire an attorney licensed in your state of residence.

At The Handley Law Office, we pay close attention to your family situation and will provide a comprehensive questionnaire that walks you through the detailed structure of how you want your assets distributed and who you will choose as your child(ren)'s guardian should you die when they are young. Understanding your family allows us to prepare your Estate Planning documents specifically for you. 

For example, do you have minor children? Do you have children from a previous marriage? Who is the best person to look after your children if you die before they turn 18?

Dying without a Will is called Intestate. In the State of Texas, the laws of "Intestate Succession" are clearly defined and there is a procedure which determines how your assets are distributed. This means that relatives you may not want to include will inherit some assets. The courts will also determine who will become the guardian of your minor children. Let's say, for example, that both sets of grandparents are still living but you feel one would be more suited to be the children's guardians. Without a clearly defined guardian within a Will, the court may decide to give guardianship to the other set of grandparents. Having a Will outlines your wishes for all aspects of your life, including your minor children.

In addition, there are reasons for having a Trust established, either within or outside of your Will. One reason may be that the Trust, managed by a Trustee of your choosing, will retain the assets earmarked for your children. You may not want your 18 year old child to inherit a large sum of money at that age so a Trust can determine at what age (or ages) your children will receive their inheritance.

In Texas, minor children cannot receive or hold assets so any inheritances for a minor child must be protected and supervised until they reach adulthood. There are several ways to manage this; however, the easiest way is creating a Trust either within your Will or on the outside of your Will.

Even if you don't have children, setting up Estate Planning is important. For example, one client has several children but one is estranged. This client wanted to divide the assets among the two other children and was able to set up the Will to reflect these wishes. 

Our Will packages come with Durable Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney, HIPAA, and Physicians Directive documents which are essential for a designated representative to handle matters in the event of your incapacitation or death. We also recommend adding a Right of Survivorship document for your home and making sure those who are self-employed have a succession plan for their business.

It's important to note that, even though you may set up Estate Planning early, should your family grow or your wishes change, in many cases we can create a codicil to your Will to reflect these changes.

There are many reasons why having comprehensive Estate Planning done at any age is important. Reach out to The Handley Law Office to learn more and to have a discussion about Estate Planning so your family will be protected should something happen to you.

 

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