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What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a legal plan that essentially lays out three things:
1) how your assets will be managed during your lifetime
2) how your assets will be distributed upon your death or incapacitation
3) what will happen to your family and/or to your business if anything happens to you
Life is full of the unexpected, and the truth is that none of us know for certain what the future holds or how much time we have left. If you don’t have your affairs in order – which, in plain terms, means that you do not have an estate plan that clearly defines your wishes and intentions for your family members and your assets – you’re taking a risk. That’s because if something does happen to you, and you become incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly, Texas state laws will control how your estate is distributed.
The assets that you have worked so hard your entire life for may not be passed to your family as an inheritance, or at least not fully, and not without a struggle. Your estate may be depleted by taxes, creditors, and probate costs, as your family will likely have to navigate that time-consuming and expensive court process. This could leave them in a hard financial situation. It could cause them much stress and confusion on top of their grief over losing you, and it could even cause conflict among them if they disagree on what your wishes were. In order to preserve your assets and pass them to your family directly, you need an estate plan created by an experienced Houston estate planning lawyer.
It is important to note that an estate plan is not just having a will. Having a will is necessary, but a will alone will not prevent the government from controlling your estate. There are many other legal tools and documents that make up a comprehensive estate plan, including trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, and health care proxies (that will need to be drafted), and insurance policies, financial information, proof of identity documents, and property deeds (that will need to be gathered and included in your plan).
Who needs an estate plan?
Many people are under the misapprehension that only wealthy people need estate plans, but that’s a myth. Trusts and other estate planning tools aren’t just for the rich! Everyone who owns property or has people who depend on them for income should have an estate plan. If you have sizable assets, it’s definitely important to have an estate plan because you have more to protect, but all middle class families need to ensure that their homes, bank accounts, and other possessions will not have to go through the probate process and can be passed directly to their beneficiaries.
If you have special circumstances, such as a blended family, a business you own, a child with special needs, or some other unique consideration, it is even more important for you to have an estate plan. Attorney Michelle E. Murphy, a Houston estate planning lawyer, can help answer any questions you may have about whether or not you need an estate plan and what yours should look like.
When do you need an estate plan?
The best time to make an estate plan is right now. It doesn’t matter how young or healthy you are – if the last two years or so have taught us anything, it’s that things can change in an instant. Many people procrastinate estate planning because they don’t like to think about not being there for their families, and they believe that they will have more time later on in life, but if you wait, you may never get the chance to create a plan. Don’t put such an important legal task off for long!
Why do you need a Houston estate planning lawyer’s help?
You could try to create your estate plan yourself, but that would be an extremely complicated, time-consuming process – and not necessarily a successful one. Doing the legal research to find out what you need and how to make it can be confusing. Downloadable document templates you may find online aren’t personalized to your specific needs and goals, and therefore won’t accurately achieve what you are trying to accomplish. Lawyers go to school and study for years to be able to design custom estate plans that safeguard your legacy; that’s why it’s recommended that if you live in or near Houston, Texas, you enlist the assistance of a Houston estate planning lawyer who can ensure you have all your bases covered. An attorney will make sure your estate plan is created correctly, so you can focus on enjoying the present.
Why choose the Law Office of Michelle E. Murphy for estate planning?
When it comes to matters as consequential and delicate as estate planning, the attorney you choose to work with matters. Attorney Michelle E. Murphy understands how personal planning can be and takes an equally personal approach to legal advocacy. She cares about you and your family’s future, and she will take the time to get to know you so she can offer you the best advice and guidance possible. Her over 20 years of experience helping clients in Houston & beyond prepare for the future can provide peace of mind, and her ability to serve clients virtually provides convenience. She offers free initial consultations to clients so they can get to know her, ask questions, and learn about their next steps. If you have a legal issue she can help with, call and schedule your free consultation today!
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Ms. Murphy made sure to use all of her resources and did everything legally possible to help me. She fought harder than other lawyers out there and found ways to make everything work in my favor. I really appreciate how she helped me and made me feel at ease under the worst circumstances. I recommend her highly.
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