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Securing Your Legacy Through A Thoughtful Estate Plan

Many people put off estate planning because they dread having to think about it. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful or scary process. In fact, it’s an empowering one. Estate planning means defining your wishes and preparing for the future. It means establishing a legacy and providing for your loved ones.

At Hales & Sellers, PLLC, we’re here to partner with you in putting a solid estate plan into place – one that reflects your dreams, wishes, values and loved ones. One that secures your legacy. Our goal is to give you the tremendous peace of mind that comes with knowing you have done everything in your power to address those important decisions in a legally effective manner.

Our attorneys and staff share a commitment to putting your needs first – ensuring that you feel safe, heard and comfortable with each step in the process. Led by a lawyer who is board-certified in estate planning and probate through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, we draw on a wealth of experience and knowledge to provide the detailed guidance you deserve. Based in Dallas, we handle estate issues throughout the DFW area.

What Happens If You Don’t Have A Solid Estate Plan

If you are one of the approximately 55% of Americans who do not have a last will and testament or an estate plan, you risk leaving your family without guidance at best – and leaving a legacy of conflict and frayed family bonds at worst. Failing to have an estate plan in place means having your family forced to navigate Texas’ intestacy laws. Essentially, if you do nothing, the laws of the state of Texas will fill in the blanks for you. The intestacy process often comes with far more hiccups than you might hope for.

Estate planning is the best thing you can do to prevent heated family disputes after you’re gone. Estate planning is as much about your kids – or your beneficiaries and loved ones – as it is about you. With minimal planning, you can save your loved ones the time and expense of complicated probate proceedings.

Key Elements Of An Estate Plan

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn’t just about planning for eventual death. It’s also about preparing for the possibility of incapacitation, whether caused by an accident, illness or the natural aging process. Estate planning may also encompass planning for the succession of a business you own.

Estate planning can be as simple as having a last will and testament laying out your wishes for those you care most about. If you have a more complex estate with high-value assets, or if you want to set up a more detailed framework around when and how to provide for your beneficiaries, then a trust may also make sense.

We can help you assess which tools make the most sense for your situation. Those documents may include:

  • Wills
  • Guardianship designations for minors
  • Revocable trusts
  • Irrevocable trusts
  • Special needs trusts
  • Advance directives for medical care
  • Durable powers of attorney

With the right legal framework in place, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will be taken care of, no matter what curveballs you encounter down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

Below are some common questions we get about estate planning and Texas estate law.

How are separate property and community property distributed in a Texas estate?

This is an important question if you’re married. Texas law regards any property that is owned or acquired during the marriage as community property, which means it’s owned equally by both spouses, regardless of how it’s titled. However, there are exceptions for separate property such as gifts and inheritances. Each spouse’s estate plan should address any separate property explicitly.

What should I communicate to my adult children about my estate plan?

Conversations like this can be difficult, but communication is an essential component of the estate planning process. Assuming you have a solid relationship with your children, it’s important for them to understand your wishes. They should have a clear picture of your financial accounts, funeral and burial plans, beneficiary information and other details they will need to address in accordance with your wishes.

Should I communicate my beneficiary designations to the beneficiaries? What if someone doesn’t want something?

Generally speaking, open communication can lay the groundwork for fruitful decision-making when it comes to making beneficiary designations. However, this is a personal decision that depends on your situation. You know your relationships and family dynamics best. Our lawyers can help you weigh the pros and cons of discussing beneficiary designations.

What are the benefits and risks of a DIY will?

A do-it-yourself will is better than nothing if you have a very basic estate with few assets and no complicating factors. However, a DIY will can still have major gaps, resulting in unexpected hurdles, expenses and even heated disputes. It’s far better to consult with an attorney. We can review your documents and make sure you’re protected.

What considerations should business owners make when estate planning?

For business owners, succession planning is an important part of the estate planning process. Your business succession plan should address all the details of who will step into your shoes to run the business, and under what circumstances (including not just death but also incapacity). The succession plan should have the proper business governance documents to be effective.

Let’s Get A Solid Estate Plan Into Place For You And Your Loved Ones

Whether you need to start an estate plan from scratch or you’d like us to review your existing one and provide guidance and updates, we are here for you. Contact us through the website or by phone at 469-304-2819 to get started with a free consultation. We offer in-person, phone and Zoom consultations, and we can come to you if that’s more convenient.