The most frequent comments I hear are, “We thought about getting our wills done, but we got too busy,” or “We put off getting wills because it was so hard to decide who would be our Executor or guardian for our children.”
It can be hard to stop and plan for the future while we are living our busy and active lives. However, owners of rural land have even more cause to carefully develop an estate plan. An estate heavy on real estate and short on cash or liquidity could result in the unplanned sale of family land to achieve an equal distribution of assets. For rural landowners, estate planning requires understanding whether your loved ones want to own the land, considering how they will manage it in the future, and developing strategies for ensuring there are liquid assets in your estate to help with estate expenses and balancing the gifts. Often, the Texas probate process can be straightforward, but failure to plan, or failure to have a well-drafted plan, can make probate trying and expensive.
A few principles of good planning can help you avoid creating more costs and difficulty for your loved ones when they probate your estate.
- Update your Will: Due to additional judicial requirements, probate of an estate when a person dies without a Will is usually 2-3 times more costly than probate of a well-drafted Will. Having a Will downloaded from the internet or provided through a software package can trim some up-front expenses, but exposes your estate to costly problems during the probate process.
- Use Beneficiary Designations: A will remains a critical tool of your estate plan to ensure that personal property and assets without beneficiary designations pass to whomever you choose in the manner you choose.
- Carefully select your Executor: The Executor has duties to the beneficiaries and is accountable to the Court, so it is a serious responsibility. Appoint someone who will have the time to do this important task, can convey difficult information, and will uphold your stated intentions.
- Protect those inheriting from you: A well-drafted will includes the option to create trusts for the beneficiaries upon your death. These trusts protect the inherited assets from creditors and are much better than custodial accounts for holding assets inherited by a minor or a person with a disability.
Contact Margaret Menicucci at 512-894-5426 for a free consultation, and the peace of mind that comprehensive estate planning can bring.