By now, most people will have been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath – which could include knowing someone who has died tragically and suddenly, or from knowing someone who has lost a loved one unexpectedly to the virus. For this reason and so many more, it is prudent and practical to put your estate planning wishes down in writing today, in order to clearly delineate what you would want to happen to your property and assets after your death. When there are minor children involved, it becomes even more important to set your wishes out in a formal document – to prepare for any loss that could occur in the future.
Estate planning is a wide topic of discussion that refers to the decisions related to an individual’s financial affairs, medical treatment preferences and distribution of assets once a person dies. You’ll want to talk to an attorney who is knowledgeable in creating effective estate plans for you in Texas, because the laws in all states may differ on the finer points related to overall estate planning for an individual in this state.
Texas Estate Planning with Minor Children
First and foremost, you’ll need to have a will. Simply put, a will is a formal legal document that tells the world how you plan to distribute your property and assets after you die. Here are some things to know about your Texas will:
- Guardian Designation: In the case of minor children, the will can also designate who will care for the minor children until they reach the age of adulthood or emancipation, in what capacity, and will discuss any other people or personal arrangements that you would want for your children’s care after your death.
- Avoid Fighting: Having a will in force is more than just a convenience. The will can prevent family feuds, misunderstandings and assist the court to the determination of heirs to your property after your death.
- Probate: In the State of Texas, wills are beneficial too because if an individual dies without a will, your property is considered possibly “up for grabs,” which is to say a person dies intestate and the courts make the best guess on how to divide up the estate to blood relatives. It is a pricey gamble that the court will figure out who needs to or should inherit what from your estate. All of which is bypassed by probate and will be distributed to your advantage when you have taken the time to draft a will – it’s certainly worth it to have one!
Next, consider taking a recount of all of your family members who are listed as beneficiaries on your insurance, retirement plans, and bank accounts. If you have minor children and have an idea who to designate as the formal caregivers of these children after your death, you’ll want those individuals who will be guardians of your children to have access to important resources to help manage their care.
This is true especially if you have children with special needs, disabilities or medical issues (diagnosed or undiagnosed). You should seek out the professional advice of a Texas estate planning attorney to make sure that your wishes are fully (and legally) executed.