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An experienced attorney can help you with your estate plan, including the creation of a Houston last will and testament.

What Is a Last Will and Testament?

A last will and testament is a document that spells out the specifics of who you want to receive your assets after death as well as naming the individual who will be the guardian of your minor children and who will protect your children’s inheritance until they reach the age of majority. While often regarded as a means of distributing assets, having a will can also provide asset protection, ensuring that your survivors understand who you intended to benefit from your assets after death and avoiding expensive legal battles between survivors. Certain trusts can be developed during the process of creating your will to further protect assets from creditors or from tax debts.

When Do I Need a Last Will and Testament?

People often think that a will should only be created when someone is of an advanced age or has a medical condition that makes their long-term survival unlikely. However, as long as you are 18, of sound mind, and have assets or other arrangements that must be made to protect your loved ones in the event of your untimely passing. Some of the most common reasons for creating a will include:

  • You have significant assets and want a say in how those assets will be distributed after your death.
  • You have minor children.
  • You wish to minimize the estate tax burden on your loved ones.
  • You want to prevent your beneficiaries from having to endure a lengthy probate process.
  • You can opt to disinherit individuals who would likely stand to inherit some of your assets if the state determines how to distribute them.
  • It allows you the option to make gifts and donations that are excluded from the imposition of estate taxes and that will not prevent a special needs beneficiary from being eligible to obtain compensation through federal programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
  • You have undergone a significant life change, such as the birth of a child or a divorce, that can impact how you choose for your assets to be distributed at the time of your death.

What Should a Last Will and Testament Include?

The information your last will and testament should contain includes:

  • Information about the assets you have, including bank accounts, real estate investments, retirement plans, life insurance policies, and personal assets such as artwork or home furnishings.
  • A listing of the debts you owe.
  • A list of your beneficiaries, including both relatives and friends as well as organizations you wish for assets to be given to.
  • A executor for your estate. This is an individual who you choose to ensure that the provisions of your will are carried out as you intended.
  • The naming of a legal guardian to care for your minor children until they reach the age of majority.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Last Will and Testament?

Many individuals prepare their own last will and testament through online templates or by handwriting their wishes. While most states — including Texas — recognize wills that are created in this matter, a lawyer can help you ensure that your Houston last will and testament contains provisions to oversee the proper distribution of your assets and that it will hold up to any challenges that are made. Some services an experienced Houston last will and testament lawyer can provide for you include:

  • Answers to your legal questions about creating your will, including who can benefit from your will and what asset protection options are available to help avoid a situation in which your loved ones are expected to fight for your assets in court or pay high taxes in order to receive them.
  • Additional services, such as tax planning, to enhance the creation of your will.
  • The development of complex plans for the distribution of your assets extends beyond just leaving everything to one or two people.
  • Assistance with clarifying the rights of surviving partners if you are a small business owner.
  • The provision of long-term arrangements for the care of a beneficiary, such as setting up a trust for an incapacitated child.
  • Guidance about how to disinherit or substantially disinherit a spouse in order to preserve assets that you wish to give to others.

For more information on creating a Houston last will and testament, contact us for a free case evaluation.

Finding the Best Houston Last Will and Testament Attorney for You 

A will and testament is an essential estate planning document that will dictate who inherits your assets. Don’t take chances with your last wishes. Working with an experienced Houston last will and testament attorney can ensure that your will is legal, valid, and comprehensive.

A Houston Last Will and Testament Attorney Here To Support You

Whenever you find yourself needing to reach out to our office, you can be sure you won’t need to wait for hours or days in order to get a response. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we pride ourselves on being easily accessible and on responding to all client inquiries as soon as possible.

The fact of the matter is, one day you will need to fall back on your estate plan. Whether it will simply be to pass on your family’s wealth after you pass, or something even more heartbreaking like needing a new guardian appointment for your children, having a thorough and customized plan in place will help make sure your family and your future are well taken care of. This plan will often need to include a last will and testament, and you can rest easy knowing that an experienced Houston Last Will and Testament Attorney has your best interests at heart.

Reach out today for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few different scenarios that would render a will invalid. Some of these scenarios include:

  • Fraud: If any piece of the will (or any of the assets listed) are found to be fraudulent, then the entire will could be deemed invalid
  • Mental state: if the will was drafted while the person was not of sound mind, then it is not a valid will
  • Undue influence: if someone faced pressure or other inappropriate influence when creating the will (usually in an attempt to defraud someone of their assets) then the will is not valid
  • Improper execution: if the will was not created correctly and did not have the correct witnesses, it is invalid

While you are alive, there is no requirement to file your last will and testament in court. After you pass, however, your heirs and beneficiaries will have to file with the court in order to adequately meet your last wishes.

Wills and trusts are two different documents that accomplish different things. Most people will find that their estate plan will benefit from having a will and one or more trusts. An experienced Houston will attorney will be able to review your particular situation and help you come up with the right set of documents in order to carry out your wishes.