Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions
What should I include in my will or estate plan?
The short answer is: everything. Some of the most common assets to address in your estate plan include:
- Your personal property, such as furniture
- Your home and other real estate investments
- Your vehicle
- Any financial accounts or cash
- Insurance policies
- Retirement pensions and plans
Making an inventory of all your assets and deciding who should inherit them is what can make estate planning so complex. However, it is beneficial to reduce your own worries as well as your family’s.
Estate planning can be complicated, and that is why it is important to work with an attorney experienced in estate planning.
What makes a will legally valid?
There are several requirements you must meet for your will to be legal and valid. They are:
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must be of sound mind
- There is no undue influence from interested parties
- The will is signed and dated with two witnesses who are not beneficiaries
If there is a reason to question any of these factors, beneficiaries may have grounds to contest a will and the estate administration. An estate planning attorney can help you to ensure your will is valid.
What are the responsibilities of an executor?
An executor is the representative you choose to carry out the wishes outlined in your will. Their responsibilities include:
- Submitting the will for probate
- Informing insurance, financial and government agencies of the death of their loved one
- Paying their loved one’s remaining taxes and debts
- Making an inventory of the estate and all assets
- Distributing the assets to the designated beneficiaries
It is important to note Texas’ laws involving executors. Most state laws dictate that the executor must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. And Texas probate courts reserve the right to reject an executor if they believe they are unfit.
What is the difference between a will and a living will?
Though they share a similar name, wills and living wills are very different documents with very different purposes.
A will helps you to provide for your family after death. Meanwhile, a living will, also called an advance health care directive, is an estate planning tool that specifically addresses your preferences for medical care. This document makes your wishes known if you are unable to speak for yourself in an emergency. For example, a living will can:
- Instruct medical professionals to keep the testator alive
- Instruct medical professionals not to resuscitate
- Assign a trusted representative to make health care decisions
When should I update my estate plan?
Many people think that once they establish their estate plan, that everything is settled. This is usually not the case. Estate planning laws change, and it is important to update your estate plan to comply with the laws.
It is also important to update your estate plan whenever you experience changes in your life, including:
- Someone in your family divorces or remarries
- There is the birth of a new family member
- A child becomes a legal adult
- You obtain a substantial amount of money
- You wish to make a change to your estate plan
- Your estate plan is old
Our estate planning lawyer can help you adjust and update your estate plan to meet your needs. You can contact our San Antonio offices today by email or by calling 210-569-0581 for a free consultation.