The steps in creating an estate plan

Some people in Texas may have avoided creating an estate plan because they are concerned that the process will be complex or they think they are not wealthy enough to need one. However, an estate plan can make things easier for a person’s loved ones and ensure that the person’s wishes are carried out instead of the wishes of attorneys or the government.

People should start by making a list of assets and debts. This should include their worth, where to find them and who they should pass to. In deciding who the beneficiaries should be, it may help to think about the goals for the estate plan. For example, it may also be necessary to appoint guardians for minor children or to make plans in case of becoming incapacitated. People who already have a will, beneficiary designations, powers of attorney and other estate planning documents should review them. Others will need to create these documents.

Some individuals may also want to consider a trust. These can be powerful tools that keep assets from having to go through the probate process and pass them directly to individuals instead. Trusts may be revocable or irrevocable. The former allows the creator to make changes to the trust while the latter removes the assets from the creator’s power.

An attorney may be able to help an individual with estate planning and probate as well as determining whether one or more trusts would be appropriate. For example, a trust could be helpful if there is a family member who is likely to be irresponsible with money. It could specify when that person receives disbursements, or that power could be left to a trustee. With a special needs trust, assets might be left for an individual who receives government benefits without endangering those benefits.