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North Texas Wills Attorneys Plan for Succession

Professional estate planning lawyers help ensure your intentions are honored

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.

Creating an optimal estate plan for clients in Denton and Flower Mound

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:

  • Living trust — A trust is a legal entity you create to hold assets for the benefit of a person or persons. During your lifetime, you can be the beneficiary of your trust, enjoying your assets in retirement. Then, after you pass, your trust either distributes the assets to your heirs (avoiding the time and expense of probate) or continues to hold the assets for the benefit of your heirs according to your wishes. We help clients establish trusts and act as trustees, managing the assets for the good of the beneficiaries.
  • Last will and testament — Your will is an essential part of your estate plan, because it allows you to distribute your wealth to people you choose according to your intentions. Without a will, your property passes according to the inheritance laws of the state of Texas. We draft wills for clients and ensure that the execution of the will meets the requirements of Texas law. We also review existing wills and update them as necessary.
  • Advance healthcare directive — Also known as a living will, this document alerts healthcare professionals as to the extent of lifesaving intervention you find acceptable at your stage in life.
  • Powers of attorney — These documents allow you to name a trusted individual to manage your affairs and make decisions if you become incapacitated.
  • Insurance — As part of an asset protection plan, you should have adequate insurance to protect you from claims for liability. We review your policies to find gaps in coverage and suggest options to reduce your exposure.

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.

The requirements of a legally valid will in Texas

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:

  • Legal capacity — A testator must be at least 18 years of age at the time a will is executed.
  • Testamentary capacity — A testator must be of sound mind and free from compulsion when executing a will.
  • Testamentary intent — A testator must intend to create a will in executing the document.
  • Formalities of execution — An attested will must be in writing, signed by the testator or a representative signing in the testator’s presence and under the testator’s direction, and witnessed by two credible persons over the age of 14. A holographic will must be completely written in the testator’s handwriting and signed by the testator.

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.

Using your will to appoint a guardian

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.

Contact a detail-oriented estate planning attorney to create your will

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, and Gainesville.

  • "Absolute best in the business hands down! Don White is absolutely amazing wouldn’t ever consider using anyone else, we highly recommend this firm!" - Alyssa McKissaack

  • "The best! Richard has been my family’s attorney for 35 years. Integrity best describes Richard Hayes." - John Grafa

  • "From my first meeting with Mr. Berry and his staff, I was immediately relieved. The bankruptcy process was explained to me simply and objectively and I was made to feel at ease through the entire ordeal. I was especially impressed by his helpful and knowledgeable assistant, Jackie Cox. I would hope to be able to retain Byron Berry for any future needs." - Anonymous

  • "Great Firm with Great Lawyers! It was a great pleasure working with William and his team." - Collin R. Geis

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