Finding the Right Texas Estate Plan
Deciding what level of complexity your plan requires is the first step towards finding the right solution.
The Brennan Law Firm offers customization for both simple wills and complex wills (wills with testamentary trusts). The descriptions below will give you a basic idea of the difference between the two, but we will also go over your unique situation during your initial consultation to help you decide which option is right for you.
What is a simple will?
In many cases in Texas, a simple will can accomplish everything you need. If you need to divide your money, personal belongings, car, and/or house, drafting a simple will makes sure that everything you own gets to the people you have chosen (these people are called "beneficiaries"). Although a will often needs to go through probate (see our explanation of probate below), simple wills usually involve simple probate. Our Sugar Land estate planning attorney can assist you with creating a simple but thorough will.
What is a complex will?
You may wish to include instructions in your will for how your possessions are treated, not only directly after death, but into your beneficiaries' lifetimes and beyond. We can include a testamentary trust in your will. This trust will go into effect as your will is probated.
Once the testamentary trust goes into effect, the person you assign to execute your trust (the trustee) can hold and manage money and property until a certain requirement is met (for example, holding your child's inheritance until they turn 18). Testamentary trusts give you additional flexibility to make sure that your possessions go to whom you want, when you want, for the purposes you want and, often, in the most tax-efficient way.
Wills can be as customized and complex as needed, ensuring that your loved ones are protected. When you want to keep your property in your name until you die, a will can be the right tool to manage your belongings after death. Speak to our Sugar Land estate planning attorney today to discuss whether you need a testamentary trust.
Will Amendments ("Codicils")
We can also assist you with amending your will to add new distributions or change existing distributions. In the age of word processing, it is often easier simply to create a new will, but a codicil is an option to make changes without making a new will.
What is probate?
A will goes legally into effect when it is admitted to probate by a probate court. In Texas, the process begins by filing a petition for probate. You then attend a "prove-up" hearing to answer some simple questions about the estate of the person who died (the "decedent"). You must also file an inventory of everything in the decedent's estate, an appraisal of each item's value, and a list of claims, which states all people who could claim a portion of the estate.
When the will provides for independent administration (which is extremely common in Texas), the remaining tasks can ordinarily be performed free of court supervision. We can prepare the necessary court documents, represent you at the hearing, and guide you through both the supervised and unsupervised aspects of estate administration. We make sure that all legal requirements are satisfied and the decedent's property is distributed as provided in the will.
Find out more about probate and how we can assist probate in Fort Bend and Harris County here.