You need to know how your property will pass, and to whom it will go. Trusts may be appropriate if you have minor children, or want management of your assets for the benefit of yourself, your spouse, or other beneficiary.
A Will is an important aspect of your future planning for your family. Without it, Texas law will determine how your property will pass to your legal heirs, and that is not necessarily how you would want it to pass. A Will also accomplishes other goals. For example, a Will allows you to appoint your preferred guardian for your child, should you and the child’s other parent die together. Without such a designation, a court will make this decision for you. Also, because children under age 18 cannot inherit property outright, a Will allows you to provide for their inheritance by setting up a trust for their benefit. A trust is an arrangement by which property is transferred with the intention that it be administered by an appointed trustee for the children’s benefit. The trustee has a fiduciary obligation to guard the property and apply it in the best interests of the children. Or, if your spouse is not skilled in money management, you may consider setting up a trust for his/her benefit in your Will. Further, Wills in Texas may provide for an independent administration in the probate process. This means that your appointed executor will have an easier, quicker, and less expensive job of collecting your assets and distributing them to your loved ones.
People often believe that they need a Living Trust, or Revocable Trust. Many times this belief is based on something they heard on television, from a friend, on the internet, or maybe even from a financial adviser. A competent Texas lawyer can advise you on the realities of the Texas probate system and whether your concerns warrant the drafting of a Living Trust. You can see more information on this in the FAQ section of this website.
Some of your property will pass outside of the instructions in your Will. These assets, known as “non-probate assets,” include items such as life insurance policies, retirement plans, pension plans, and annuities. It is important to have your intended beneficiaries designated on these accounts, and to make sure those beneficiaries fit your global distribution plan.