Wills, Trusts, and Probate Frequently Asked Questions

While no one likes to think about life after they are gone, it is an important topic to give attention to when it comes to considering your estate and the beneficiaries you want to leave something for. Taking the time to organize your estate will be extremely beneficial to your loved ones and helps ease the legal process of distributing your property and finances according to your wishes. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions our legal team gets about our wills, trusts, and probate services:

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning gives individuals the power to make personal decisions about the management and distribution of their assets, along with health and personal care decisions.

What Is Involved in an Estate Plan?

For a basic estate plan, the following documents should be included:

  • A will
  • An advanced health care directive (also known as a living will)
  • A financial power of attorney
  • A medical power of attorney
  • Designation of a guardian in advance of need

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that outlines an individual’s wishes for how their estate will be handled after they pass. It identifies who will be in charge of the estate and how property and finances will be distributed to the beneficiaries.

A will should include information about who will be named executor of the estate (the person in charge of carrying out the will), the beneficiaries (the inheritors of assets), and guardianship for any minors if necessary. The executor of the will needs to follow the instructions left on the will concerning how and when inheritors will receive their inheritance.

What Happens If There Is No Will?

The State of Texas Estate Code states that without a will, the disposition of one’s estate will be established by statute and not the wishes of the deceased. There has to be a will to ensure that your estate is handled the way you want it to be after you’re gone.

If your loved one passed away without a will, then a probate attorney will be needed to handle the legal side of the proceedings, as the Texas probate law is complicated and changes frequently.

When Would I Need to Update My Will?

A will needs to be updated after major life changes. This could mean marriage in the family, divorce, the birth of a child, and changes in assets. In some cases, if the change is major, such as the loss or gain or major assets, a will can be completely redrafted. Always discuss your options with your estate planning attorney. 

What Is a Living Will?

Despite the name, a living will is not a will at all. Also known as an Advance Directive to Physicians, a living will is a document that states one’s wishes for medical treatment in case he or she is unable to communicate their wishes due to terminal illness or an irreversible condition. This document often reflects one’s wishes regarding life support, resuscitation, and end-of-life care.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the name the courts use for the public legal process when an individual has died and the administration of one’s estate has begun. During the process, the court will recognize a will (if there is one), appoint the named executor or administrator for the estate, and establish the need for an estate administration.

What Is an Estate Administration?

An estate administration is the process that gathers the estate assets, pays the estate debts, expenses, taxes, and ultimately distributes and retitles the estate assets. The state of Texas has several different procedures for administering an estate. Some of these procedures involve wills and others don’t – it depends on the circumstances surrounding the estate and whether there is a valid will present. 

Is There a Time Period for When the Probate of a Will Should Take Place?

The probate of a will has to take place within four years of the date of death of the individual. 

What Is a Trust?

A trust is an agreement that gives the authorization of a third party, known as the trustee, to hold or distribute assets for the beneficiaries following the trust agreement. Trusts are created to give more control over how and when assets will be distributed. This can also help save on taxes and processing time.

What Happens If Someone Does Not Have a Medical Power of Attorney?

When an individual becomes incapacitated and has no previous medical power of attorney stated, the court will appoint a legal guardian on behalf of the incapacitated individual, also known as a ward.

The guardian will then be in charge of providing care, supervision, food, clothing, and shelter for the ward. This also includes making decisions about medical treatment on their behalf.

Secure Your Lewisville Estate

Alison Grant is proud to serve the individuals in Lewisville, Texas, and the surrounding areas with our estate planning services, giving peace of mind to our clients that their property and finances will be distributed to their wishes. Contact our team today for more information on our services or to schedule an appointment.