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Wills & Last Testaments: Houston, TX

DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF I HAVE A WILL?

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None of us like to think about sitting down and making a will, but unfortunately, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. By avoiding the issue, you may be leaving numerous legal problems and disputes for your survivors after your death. When you make a will, you help ensure your belongings won't wind up in the wrong hands and that whatever is left will not be eaten up by extra costs and expenses. A last will & testament can also make sure other final wishes are carried out, such as guardianship for your children, funeral wishes, burial or cremation instructions, and more.


What is a Will?

A will is a legal document used to distribute your assets (personal property, real property, intangible assets) to your named beneficiaries. It allows you to name an executor who will handle your estate and see that all the details of your last wishes are carried out and follow legal requirements. A will may help prevent the estate administration process from forcing the sale of cherished family heirlooms and irreplaceable items. Typically, to create a legal will, you must sign it in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must sign after your signature to vouch for your sound mind and freedom from undue influence.

A last will and testament is crucial to make sure that the final wishes of the deceased are respected. The only way to ensure that the proper heirs inherit the right property from your estate in the probate process is to make a will. Taking the time now to prepare a will can prevent unintended consequences that often occur if you avoid creating a will.


Who Needs a Will?

Whether or not you are a single person, you are married, have children, or living with a significant other, you can't assume that those you care about are sure to inherit your estate when you are deceased. Here are just a few examples:

  • If your significant other isn't your spouse, he or she may be evicted from the home you shared by a long-lost relative.
  • If both parents of a child die without a will, the court will name a guardian to take custody of the minor children and handle their inheritance from the parents' estate. Even worse, if your estate recovers a large settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit after you die in a car accident, it may be taken over by the state if you failed to write a will.
  • You separated from your spouse years ago, but never got a divorce and now he or she is able to disinherit those closest to you.

A will is a legal document that allows a person to make sure their final wishes are fulfilled. By completing a will, a person gives instructions on how to distribute their assets among the intended beneficiaries, and makes other final wishes. A person may leave a bequest in any manner desired in a will, leaving everything to be distributed to one beneficiary or to be equally divided among them, or in any percentage stated. Testators may want to leave everything to a surviving spouse, and/or to leave property to their children, or not. When there is more than one heir, property is not required to be divided among them in equal shares.

A will also allows a person to choose trusted individuals to act as their personal representatives, in order to manage the estate, close up affairs, and distribute it according to the testator's stated wishes. Without a will, a person may end up having their property distributed by a stranger chosen by the court according to their state's rules of intestacy, or it could escheat to the state. This may cause much more expense and delay in the administration process than a will would require, and the property may wind up being distributed against the deceased's wishes.


DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.