A Will Can Protect You and Your Children
Without a well-drafted will, your hard-earned assets might not go where you want them to after your death. This is especially true if you’ve had multiple marriages or have children from previous relationships. At Angela Faye Brown & Associates, we can help you in writing a will that clearly outlines your wishes and ensures that you protect yourself and your children.
What Is a Will?
Wills are a legally-binding document that details how you want your property distributed after your death. However, they can do a lot more that divide up your personal property. Wills can also name a guardian for your minor child or appoint a responsible loved one to oversee assets and property that a child inherits. If you have young children, we strongly encourage you and your spouse (or your child’s other parent) to draft wills.
Wills can also help dictate how your end-of-life care will be handled. Sometimes, wills include a health care power of attorney. This appoints someone to make your health care decisions if you become incapacitated.
In Texas, wills are valid if:
- The individual had testamentary capacity. (That is, they understood what they were doing and intended the document to be their last will and testament.)
- The document is signed before two witnesses.
- The witnesses sign the document.
While you do not need to notarize wills in our state, it can speed up the probate process after your death. A notarized will is “self-proving.” The probate court will not have to contact your witnesses and confirm their signatures before accepting your will. An experienced attorney can guide you through the complete process of drafting your will in compliance with Texas laws.
I’m Getting a Divorce. Should I Change My Will?
If your soon-to-be ex-spouse receives property in your will, you might want to modify your estate plan. Typically, if you have a valid will that provides for your ex-spouse at the time of your death, they might receive a portion of your estate. If you’re unsure how a divorce will impact your will, schedule an appointment with our office.
Additionally, your assets will typically change after a divorce. During the process of dividing your community property, you’ll have to split up certain assets, such as homes, cars, retirement accounts, and personal property that you acquired together. You will not divide up your separate property.
After a divorce, it’s a good idea to review your will and clarify which assets are included in your estate. Again, a lawyer can help you revise your will to reflect your post-marriage assets and holdings and create a new will that distributes them to your current wishes.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
When people die without wills, Texas applies its intestacy, or inheritance, laws. These laws essentially create a will for you. For example, let’s say you’re married and you have two children together. Your spouse will inherit all of your community property and one-third of your separate property. Your children will inherit everything else. However, if you’re married and have a child from a previous relationship, your spouse will inherit half of your community property and one-third of your separate property. Your child will receive everything else.
If you have a minor child and do not have a will that appoints a legal guardian, the court will hold a hearing and appoint a guardian. While the court will assess the best interests of the child and will strive to make a good decision, mistakes can happen. If you have sole legal and physical custody of your child, we strongly encourage you to create a will that appoints a legal guardian for them. If you have questions about this process, please contact us for a no-risk consultation.
Should a Prenuptial Agreement Be Part of My Estate Plan?
If you have children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement can help ensure that they receive their fair share of your property. A nuptial agreement designates specific property, such as jewelry, real estate, bank accounts, or personal items, as separate property. If you die without a will, your children from previous relationships typically receive two-thirds of your separate property. While this isn’t as comprehensive a protection as a detailed, legally-binding last will and testament, it is better than nothing.
We assist clients with both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. To learn more about how they can protect and your loved ones, contact us today.
Texas’ Inheritance Laws Can Have Unwanted Effects
Sometimes, the intestacy laws have unwanted effects. For example, your parents and siblings wouldn’t receive anything under many of Texas’ inheritance rules. The same would apply to a long-term partner that you never married. Your child might also end up with a legal guardian that wouldn’t have chosen. Or, your ex-spouse might suddenly gain control of assets that your minor child inherits.
Protect Your Family and Create a Legally-Enforceable Wills
Wills help you maintain a level of control over your property and the care of your minor children even after death. When you work with one of our attorneys, we will spend time with you, getting to know your family situation and your priorities. Together, we will create a last will and testament that clearly sets out your final wishes and provides for your loved ones. If your needs require a more complex estate plan, we are happy to refer you to an experienced estate planning attorney.
Request an Appointment to Learn More About Wills
As family law attorneys, we understand that our clients need wills that protect their children, their loved ones, and reflect their long-term goals. At Angela Faye Brown & Associates, we assist clients with a wide variety of legal issues, from appointing a legal guardian for your child, to writing a will that reflects your parenting, health care, and other priorities. If you’re ready to consult with one of our experienced attorneys, complete our online form or call us today. We look forward to speaking with you and learning how we can help.