A last will and testament is the essential part of an effective estate plan. A will allows you to decide what happens to your property when you pass on. Without a will, state law dictates who receives your assets, so many of the people, organizations or causes that you care about could receive nothing. The estate planning attorneys at Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP help you make your intentions known with a clear, concise and validly executed will.
There are many complementary purposes to your estate plan. You want to protect your assets from avoidable losses due to taxation and liability so you can have a more secure, enjoyable retirement and pass on a meaningful legacy to your heirs. You also need to implement protections for your welfare as you approach old age. To accomplish these goals, your estate plan may contain numerous components, including:
With the appropriate combination of estate planning instruments, you can rest assured that your wealth is protected and your legacy to your heirs is assured.
When a testator passes away, a representative of the estate must present the will to the probate court for validation. To survive court scrutiny, certain elements must be present:
If a will fails in any of these respects, the court must invalidate it. A will can also be found unenforceable in whole or in part if it is vague or open to various interpretations. Interested parties have the right to challenge the will, in whole or in part, if they can show evidence of lack of capacity, undue influence, coercion, misrepresentation or fraud.
If you are a parent, it’s important to make provisions for your children in your will. This is especially important if you are the only surviving parent. When drawing up your will, you must consider what would happen to your children if you were to die suddenly. This is an opportunity to express your preference for a legal guardian in the event of your death. However, your preference stated in a valid will does not automatically create a guardianship upon your passing. The named guardian must still request appointment from the court, and the judge will weigh your preference along with other factors influencing the best interests of your children. Parents of minor children, especially those with special needs, should consider establishing trusts for their benefit as well.
Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP assists North Texas clients wishing to execute a will. Call us at 940-230-2386 or contact us online to schedule a meeting at one of our offices, located in Denton, Flower Mound, Gainesville and Celina.
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