Lawyers and many other people think it is a good idea for people to have a will. With a will, you may control the distribution of your private property as specifically as you would personally prefer. Without a will, Texas' laws of dissent and distribution control. If you die without a will, Texas law will determine who receives your property by default. Typically, the distribution per Texas law would be to your spouse and children, or if none, to other surviving family members. Texas law often reflects the Texas Legislature's best guess as to how most people would dispose of their estate and builds in protections for certain beneficiaries, particularly for minor children. But that default plan may, or may not, reflect your actual wishes. A will allows you to alter the State's default plan to suit your personal preferences.
A will provides for the distribution of property owned by you at the time of your death in any manner you choose. However, your will cannot govern the disposition of properties that pass outside your probated estate unless they are payable to your estate, such as joint property, life insurance, retirement plans, and employee death benefits. A will also does not govern the transfer of certain types of assets, called non-probate property, that by operation of law or contract, pass to someone else on your death.
There are several other important objectives that may be accomplished in your will:
· You may designate a guardian for your minor child, or children, if you have survived the other parent.
· You may designate an executor, or executrix, of your estate in your will and eliminate the need for a bond.
· You may choose to acknowledge, or otherwise provide for, a child (and/or stepchild, Godchild, an elderly parent, etc.) in whom you have an interest.
· If you are acting as custodian for the assets of a child or grandchild under the Uniform Gift (or Transfers) to Minors Act, you may designate your successor custodian and avoid the expense of a court appointment.
While it is easy to be persuaded by advertisements claiming you can save time and money by drafting your own will, it is unlikely that these systems will generate a suitable will that accomplishes all your objectives. Only a qualified attorney can interpret the laws of the State of Texas concerning property rights, wills, probate, and trusts.
You can save time and money by preparing thoroughly for a meeting with Jerry W. Melton. Such preparation should include: organizing your information regarding your assets, liabilities, and title arrangements; taking notes to prepare for a discussion regarding your feelings about providing for various family members; and, providing copies of important documents, such as previous wills or trusts, powers-of-attorney, life insurance policies, employment benefits, and prenuptial agreements, or divorce decrees.
Our firm has served the Dallas area for over 40 years. We have the resources to answer all your questions concerning wills and the qualifications to prepare a will for you. Please fill out our form online or call 972-980-8000 today and schedule your free consultation.