No one likes to think about life after they’re gone. Not even the wealthy and famous. When “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman died he left behind millions in his estate. Without a will, his wife must now go through the courts to be named administrator and his assets are subject to probate. This lengthy process can jeopardize the estate and leave its fate up to the courts instead of to Boseman’s wishes. Boseman is not the only famous celebrity to have died without leaving a will or an estate plan. When the artist formerly known as Prince passed away in 2016, he left his $300 million estate in the hands of the courts.

You may be thinking, “I’m not wealthy or famous, so why do I need an estate plan.” Unfortunately, many individuals believe that estate plans are only for the rich. However, this is far from the truth. Estate plans protect anyone with assets of any kind and they safeguard your family from having to endure the long and painful process of probate.

“Won’t my assets just go to my next of kin?” This is another commonly held belief that simply isn’t true. While some assets will pass to your next of kin, this is not an automatic guarantee. If you want your spouse or children to benefit from your estate, you need an estate plan in place.

Benefits of an Estate Plan

Why do I need an estate plan? An estate plan can help you in numerous ways.

First, it will ensure that any medical and financial decisions are made by someone you trust. This can help reduce the burden on you and other family members if you suddenly become incapacitated.

Secondly, an estate plan gives you the control to decide which of your family members gets your property and valuables. You may decide to place some of your assets in a trust for minor children or leave your home to your spouse. In any case, you maintain control over what happens to your assets once you are gone.

Lastly, an estate plan can help you avoid tax liabilities and costly court fees. Your loved ones won’t have to go to court to decide guardianship, which can be costly. When you pass away without a will or estate plan, the courts must handle everything. This includes division and distribution of your property – and they don’t do this for free. Probate gets expensive and can quickly drain an estate, preventing your loved ones from benefiting from much-needed income after your death.

What is in an estate plan?

When you meet with a Houston estate planning attorney, your attorney will discuss several aspects of your estate plan. However, a well-rounded estate plan will include these elements:

  • A will
  • Beneficiaries
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advance Medical Directive
  • Life Insurance
  • Trusts
  • Appointment for Disposition of Remains
  • Transfer on Death Deed

Not every estate plan will contain all of these elements, however, you should discuss the pros and cons of each with your attorney before developing your estate plan. With the right estate plan, you can rest easier knowing that your loved ones are protected after you are gone. You will also get the peace of mind knowing that if you become sick or incapacitated, your loved ones are left knowing what your wishes truly are every step of the way.

If you already have an estate plan – good job! However, you should consider reevaluating your needs on a regular basis and making tweaks and changes as life goes on. Laws often change that can affect your estate plan, so it is good to schedule a meeting with your Houston estate planning attorney yearly to evaluate your estate plan. If you got married or divorced, or simply inherited money, your estate may need to change to reflect your new status in life.

Call Our Houston Estate Planning Attorneys Immediately

At Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C., our law firm can help you plan for the future and protect your legacy every step of the way. We know this is a stressful time and a topic no one likes to talk about. That is why we offer compassionate, efficient legal guidance through it. Whether you are looking for your first estate plan or wishing to evaluate an existing one, we want to be the first and last call you make. We know how to tackle and navigate complex estate planning law issues in Texas, and we fight aggressively for our clients every step of the way. Call us today at 713-981-0600 or fill out our confidential contact form. We are here to help!