Many people assume that only the wealthy have estates worth planning for; perceptions of estates in Texas may evoke images of mansions resting beyond high stone walls. While that is one definition, an “estate” refers to any assets owned by someone. Questions about what happens to an estate likely arise after a person dies. Taking wise estate planning steps could help family members and others handle things better when dealing with someone’s assets after their passing. Another important point to note here is that estate planning is not only for the wealthy, either. Estate planning could prove beneficial regardless of someone’s net worth.
With estate planning, someone could write a will that directs who receives what assets. In a process known as probate, an executor of the estate oversees distribution of assets. Probate also involves paying off the decedent’s debts, another task that the executor handles.
Without a will, the state’s intestate laws come into effect. The laws may lead to results that aren’t what the deceased wanted. Lacking a will, state statutes make the decisions about asset distribution or assigning a guardian to a child.
Proper estate planning could allow some assets to pass to beneficiaries and heirs without probate. Setting up joint accounts, assigning joint ownership of property or naming someone as a beneficiary on a financial account might be preferable.
Even when a person’s net worth is meager, there may still be heirs to consider. For example, parents may worry about their children’s well-being. Properly addressing the sale of a home and transfer of a 401(k) might be ways that estate planning works in favor of the children. Some assets may benefit from liquidations, and the funds could go into safe investments.
Those unfamiliar with how estate planning works might want to speak to an attorney. An estate law attorney may help with writing a will or handling other matters related to such planning.