The importance of an estate plan for people without children

Some people in Texas might think they do not need an estate plan because they do not have children. They may have no close relatives or might only have a spouse. However, there are a number of reasons to have an estate plan even if a person plans for all assets to go to a spouse.

One part of an estate plan involves planning in case a person cannot make medical or financial decisions. Powers of attorney can be used to appoint people to take on these duties if necessary. Without these, the family could go through a lengthy legal process for someone to obtain a guardianship.

If a person dies without an estate plan, state law determines the order in which family members receive assets. However, with a will or a trust, a person might choose to pass assets to a favorite cousin or a dear friend. Some people might want to consider using a trust instead of a will. Assets placed in a trust do not have to go through probate, and the estate plan stays private. Creating a trust does mean that a trustee will need to be appointed to manage it. This can be a friend or relative, but it can also be an institution.

An attorney might be able to help a person create an estate plan. While there are some do-it-yourself services available, they may be more limited in scope, and a person might run the risk of preparing an element of the estate plan incorrectly. For example, if a will uses incorrect language, it might be declared invalid. An attorney might also be able to assist a person in understanding how various estate planning tools could be useful in certain situations.

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