Why do I need a Will?

No one likes to think about their own death which makes it hard to prepare for this inevitable occurrence. Having a will provides a guide for those you leave behind and helps ensure they will be protected.  Furthermore, if you don’t have a will the state has one for you and it may not fit your needs.  A properly drafted will provides peace of mind for those you leave behind.  A good will answers four questions.

  • Who will manage your estate?
  • Where will your property go?
  • Who will care for your dependents?
  • Have your unique needs been met?

The person who manages your estate is called the executor.  The executor is responsible for gathering all of your property and identifying your debts.  They are responsible for paying the debts and distributing the remaining property according to the terms of your will. Since this individual will be responsible for managing your estate, a very important job, you should choose someone that you trust absolutely.

Your property will go to the people you have designated in your will, also known as your beneficiaries. You may designate that a particular item, for instance a family heirloom, be left to a particular individual. Parents can make provisions for their minor children to help them grow into adulthood. You may even decide to leave money to charity or friends. The point is that a will allows you to make those decisions. If you do not have a will, you are leaving that decision to a judge and the Texas intestacy statutes handed down by our legislature – neither of which know you or your wishes.

In your will, you may leave instructions on who may serve as guardian for your dependents. A dependent is typically a minor child, but could also include a disabled adult child, incapacitated spouse or anyone for which you have assumed legal responsibility. You may also specifically list people who may NOT serve as guardian in the event that none of the guardians you choose are able to serve. Courts will generally take your wishes into consideration in the event that such guardian appointment is necessary.

Every one is different. Every situation is different. Creating a will is not a one-size-fits-all process. Blended families estranged family member, pets that are a member of the family, friends that are like family, family members with special needs are just a few examples of unique situations that may require additional planning. It is important that your will is tailored to meet the needs of your specific situation. Additionally, your will should be updated when you have life changes that alter your needs or when the law changes in a way that impacts your plan.

Texas probate judges are prepared to apply Texas law in determining how your loved ones are cared for after your passing.  Creating a will allows you to plan ahead to protect and provide for the loved ones you leave behind. Contact a qualified estate planning attorney so you can rest assured that you are your family are prepared for the future.

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Law Offices of Debbie J. Cunningham

Debbie Cunningham is an Irving attorney providing affordable estate planning to the Dallas/ Fort-Worth areas. She understands the steps you should take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Debbie is family-focused and wants to ensure her clients are fully informed on the options that are available for their families. Debbie’s own blended family has given her valuable insights into the complexities of family dynamics.

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