Estate Planning Law
Texas Estate Planning
You may not want to think about it, but what will happen to everything you own when you pass away? Death may not be a pleasant topic but it’s wise to plan what will happen to your estate once you’re gone.
There are many tools to help you with estate planning in Texas. Whether you live in San Antonio, Houston or Dallas, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo’s Texas estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family’s future and connect with a qualified local attorney.
Your Last Will and Testament is a document that allows you to name beneficiaries who will receive your unclaimed financial and property assets when you die. Any assets that aren’t already promised to beneficiaries through things like life insurance or a living trust may be included in your will.
Texas sets forth specific requirements for both the will and its testator (the person for whom the will is written). The testator must be one of the following to legally make a will:
- 18 years old or older.
- Currently or previously married.
- A member or auxiliary of the U.S. armed forces or Maritime Service.
Texas requires all wills to be made in writing and signed by the testator, another person under the testator’s direction and two witnesses.
Texas Inheritance Rules
What happens if you die without having made a will? Texas’ intestate succession laws provide guidance on how your unclaimed assets are distributed through inheritance. When you die without a will, your assets will be distributed in the following succession depending on whether the beneficiaries are still alive:
- Your spouse.
- Your children and their descendants.
- Your parents, who will inherit equal portions of your estate, if both are alive. If one parent is dead, your estate will pass to:
- The surviving parent and their siblings (and the siblings’ descendants). Your estate will be divided into two equal portions between both parties.
- The surviving parent alone if there are no siblings or descendants.
- Your siblings and their descendants.
- Your paternal and maternal kindred, including grandparents and other descendants without limit.
Texas Advance Directives
There may come a time in your life when your health prevents you from competently making decisions about your health care. To ensure that your healthcare wishes are carried out, you can draft an advance directive. There are several advance directive forms in Texas which you can use to specify your wishes in different situations or using different methods to convey your wishes.
You can provide an advance directive for mental health treatment which will activate only when a court decides that your mental health has incapacitated your ability to make decisions. You can also set forth your wishes when an illness or health condition (like becoming comatose) prevents you from making decisions. A DNR (“do not resuscitate”) request, which prohibits emergency or other health care personnel from attempting to prevent you from dying, is another form of advance directive.
You may also assign the power of attorney to another person. By assigning the medical power of attorney, you are permitting another person to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to. You may also assign a statutory durable power of attorney, which allows your agent to make decisions about your estate but not about healthcare needs.