Wills And Trusts: The Foundation Of Every Estate Plan

A will is the starting point for any estate plan. A common misunderstanding about wills and trusts, however, is that once they are in place, your estate planning needs are completed. While this may be true for the time being, it is not true for all time.

In fact, wills and trusts themselves should not be viewed as static. Texas laws, personal and financial circumstances and relationships change, as can a person's needs and wishes.

Trusts are created while you are alive. They are designed to survive a person's death and are an integral part of a comprehensive estate plan.

There are several options to consider when planning your estate and they may include:

  • An advance health care directive, which is sometimes called a living will, is the document which details your end of life medical care wishes. It is different than a medical power of attorney.
  • A revocable trust, as the name suggests, is designed to be modified during the trustor's lifetime. A revocable living trust becomes irrevocable after the death of the trust maker.
  • An irrevocable trust cannot be altered, not even by the trustor. It can be created as an irrevocable living trust which may have tax benefits, such as a life insurance trust.
  • A tax bypass trust is used when one spouse wishes to leave money to the other spouse. This is often advisable because this money, when transferred to a spouse, is not taxed. If transferred to anyone else, however, including children, it can be taxed at a high rate, up to 55 percent.
  • A special purpose trust, such as a Retirement Trust (or IRA Trust), a charitable trust, a gun trust, a pet trust or special needs trust are all specialized estate planning tools used to accomplish your specific goals.

In short, the documents in your estate plan, be it a will, trust or disability plan, are "living" documents, and best serve you when they are created to be easily modified should things change.

Estate Planning Is Not Just For The Wealthy

Another falsehood is that estate plans are just for people with accumulated wealth. Quite the contrary. Most people can benefit from having a professionally prepared will or trust. There is no price tag on being able to make informed decisions. The value of knowing you have effectively provided for yourself, your spouse and your heirs is also priceless. In fact, the savings in taxes and avoiding probate often means that more money is saved by working with an state planning attorney in the long run. Everyone can benefit from having an estate plan.

What Affects A Will?

Many things can affect a will, including changes in state and federal taxes and laws regarding disbursement. But the most common changes people fail to plan for are:

  • Births and deaths
  • Divorces
  • Property and wealth acquisition or changes
  • Adoption
  • Grandchildren in new adult roles
  • Moving to a different state
  • Choosing a guardian or executor

Working with a lawyer experienced in Texas wills and trusts is the best way to make sure your hopes and wishes are carried out to their maximum benefit, especially after a life-changing event.

In Houston, contact our wills and trusts attorneys to set up your initial consultation and review how Kiefaber & Oliva LLP, can protect your wealth now and help you make the most out of your giving. Call 713-391-8704 today. Serving Houston and the outlying areas.