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Estate Planning FAQ

Webb & Associates Oct. 27, 2023

Estate planning is a crucial measure in preserving your financial stability and the legacy you wish to pass on. Serving the Houston, Texas, area—or the surrounding areas of Harris County, Sugar Land, Katy, Galveston County, Cypruss, Fort Bend County, Waller County, or Brazoria County—our devoted team at Webb & Associates is ready to support you through this intricate journey. From the establishment of wills and trusts to the management of estate taxes, we’re dedicated to helping you make plans that reflect your individual needs and circumstances. Take the leap towards securing your future, and contact our firm today for a commitment-free consultation

Estate Planning FAQs

What Is Estate Planning? 

We often hear the question, "What is estate planning?" Simply put, it's your roadmap for the future. It's a comprehensive process for managing your assets, protecting your loved ones, and ensuring your wishes are honored after you're gone. It involves creating legal documents, like wills and trusts, that set out your instructions for handling your assets and caring for your dependents. 

Why Is an Estate Plan Important? 

An estate plan isn't just about money or property—it's about peace of mind. It's knowing that you've done everything you can to protect your family and loved ones. Without an estate plan, the courts decide who gets your assets and who takes care of your children. We believe it's better for you to make those decisions. 

What Should I Consider Before I Start? 

Before you start your estate planning, think about what's important to you. Who do you want to inherit your assets? Who would you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you couldn't? What kind of medical treatment would you want—or not want—at the end of your life? These are tough questions, but answering them now gives you control over your future. 

What’s the Difference Between a Will & Trust? 

A will and a trust are both estate planning tools, but they work in different ways. A will goes into effect only after you die; a trust can start working right away. While both wills and trusts are pivotal elements of a comprehensive estate plan, they have specific differences: 

  • Timing: The most significant difference between a will and a trust is when they take effect. A will is only enacted after death, while a trust takes effect as soon as it's created and funds are placed into it. 

  • Distribution of Assets: A will directs who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. However, a trust can distribute assets before death, at death, or afterward. A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. 

  • Probate: Assets specified in a will must go through probate. The court process, which is often lengthy and expensive, is designed to establish the legality of the will. On the contrary, trusts are not subject to probate. 

  • Privacy: A will is a public document; a trust is not. Anyone who wishes can read your will after your death. A trust, on the other hand, allows you to keep your estate planning strategies confidential. 

  • Control: Wills offer less control over assets than trusts. For example, if you'd like your heirs to use their inheritance for specific purposes—like education or starting a business—a trust can make this possible. 

Remember, careful estate planning is crucial if you want to make sure your wishes are honored and your loved ones are protected. It's always recommended to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to help you decide which option best suits your needs. 

What Happens if I Die Without a Will? 

If you die without a will—what we call "dying intestate"—the courts decide how to distribute your assets based on state law. This can lead to outcomes you might not have wanted. That's why we always recommend making a will as part of your estate plan. 

Is a Hand-Written Will Valid? 

Yes, a hand-written will—also known as a "holographic" will—is valid in some states. But it must meet certain requirements, and it may not be the best option for you. We can guide you through the pros and cons. 

How Does Probate Work? 

Probate is the legal process of settling an estate after someone dies. It involves validating the will, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets. It can be complex and time-consuming, but we're here to help every step of the way. 

What Do I Do After the Death of a Family Member? 

After a loved one's death, there are many tasks to attend to, from arranging the funeral to handling their estate. Although dealing with these issues can be painful, it’s important to handle certain practical matters in a timely matter, including the following: 

  • Get a legal pronouncement of death.  

  • Notify family and friends. 

  • Find a funeral home.  

  • Arrange for a memorial or funeral service.  

  • Secure the deceased’s property.  

  • Locate the will. 

  • Notify financial institutions and government agencies.  

  • Begin the probate process.  

Losing a loved one can be overwhelming, especially during a time of grief. We're here to provide guidance and support. 

What Is a Power of Attorney (POA)? 

A power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to act on your behalf if you're unable to do so. This person could handle financial matters, make health care decisions, or both. It's a critical tool in estate planning, and we can help you set it up. 

When Should I Update an Estate Plan? 

You should review and update your estate plan whenever you have a major life change—a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a family member, or significant change in assets. Even if you haven't had a major life event, it's a good idea to review your plan every few years. 

Do I Need an Attorney to Create My Estate Plan? 

While you're not legally required to use an attorney, it’s a wise decision to hire one. Estate laws are complex and vary by state. An experienced attorney can help make sure your documents reflect your wishes and provide maximum protection for your assets and loved ones. 

Understand Your Options for Your Future

Estate planning is about more than just documents—it's about understanding your options and making informed decisions. With over 25 years of experience, our attorney Timothy Webb, serving Webb & Associates, is committed to providing excellent service, responsive communication, and personalized solutions. Our areas of service include Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas of Harris County, Sugar Land, Katy, Galveston County, Cypruss, Fort Bend County, Waller County, and Brazoria County. Reach out to our firm today, and let us help you navigate the complexities of estate planning so you can focus on what matters most—your future.