Creating a last will and testament ensures the proper distribution of your property and assets to your surviving loved ones when you pass away. However, in certain cases a simple Last Will and Testament is not the appropriate tool to distribute your estate.
Don’t Leave Funeral Instructions
While funeral arrangements are among the initial matters of business once someone passes away, people may not recognize your funeral wishes mentioned in your will until the funeral is over. As opposed to stating your funeral wishes on your will, discuss the matter with your loved ones about what’s best or even create a separate document which entails your suggestions, which must be given by the executor or executrix of your estate.
A Simple Last Will and Testament will not avoid Estate Taxes
For most people, estate tax is not a concern since the current estate tax exemption amount is $5.45 Million per person (2016). If your estate is taxable, a simple (non-tax planned) Last Will and Testament will not avoid estate tax. For taxable estates, you must use various other mechanisms to avoid estate tax such as charitable gifts (outright or in trust), valuation discounts on family limited partnerships or limited liability companies, and gifting strategies to children and grandchildren.
Your Last Will and Testament will not Avoid Probate
In Texas, the probate process (if you have a Will) is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive. Possessing a will expedites the process since you already determined how your property is going to be divided. In some cases, however, probate should be avoided due to the complexity of the estate, property located outside of Texas, or confidentiality concerns. If you want to avoid probate, you must use other mechanisms such as a revocable trust, pay-on-death bank accounts, and properly documented 401k / IRA beneficiary designations.
Special Provisions Must Be Made To Arrange Care For A Special Needs Person
The federal government places strict restrictions on income and asset limitations for a special needs person to receive federal benefits. By giving gifts outright to a special needs person, you may be ruining their chances of ever receiving such benefits. A special needs trust, either inside a Will or as a stand-alone document, can specifically determine the amount of care a disabled person needs.
Don’t Leave Outright Gifts To Pets
While you may be deeply concerned about the wellbeing of a pet once you pass away, animals do not possess the legal capacity to own property. Instead, leave a loved one you know will provide great care to your pet with the necessary property and money. Alternatively, a trust can be established for the benefit of the pet.
For more information, contact our firm today to schedule a complimentary consultation with our Montgomery County estate planning attorneys.