If you are a Texas resident, have you ever paused to ask yourself, “When should I get a will made? When is the right time to prepare a last will and testament?” We understand that thinking about and planning for death can be uncomfortable. However, you might be surprised to learn it is probably sooner than you think. Below, our Texas estate planning lawyers explain life events that should trigger you to get a will made or have an outdated will updated.
Do I Need a Will in Texas?
There is a common misconception that wills and estate planning are only necessary for older people, the wealthy, or those in poor health. Every adult, regardless of age, health status, or wealth, can benefit from having a will.
If you die in Texas without a will, a condition known as dying “intestate,” Texas intestacy laws will dictate the distribution of your assets. If you have minor children and the other parent has also passed, the court will name a guardian for your kids. A will provides you control over the following things:
- Distribution of your real estate property, personal property, money, and other assets after death
- Appointment of a guardian to your minor children in the event of death
- Designation of an executor responsible for carrying out your wishes as the will outlines, paying off any remaining debts or taxes, managing your assets until distributed, and dealing with probate court proceedings
More so, a will helps to protect your loved ones after your death. A will can spare your loved ones the added stress of trying to guess what you would have wanted after your passing. It can also prevent potential conflicts and legal disputes among family members over the distribution of your assets.
When Should I Get a Will in Texas?
Many life events may trigger when you should consider taking action to put together a will or have an outdated will updated. Generally, if your assets or beneficiaries change, consider revising or creating a will. Examples of these events include, but are not limited to:
1. You Turn 18
In Texas, you can have a will made once you are 18 or older. While 18 may seem too early for young adults to contemplate drafting a will, you are never too young to plan for the future. Life is unpredictable and having a will can offer you and your loved ones some certainty in uncertain times.
Even if you do not own costly assets like a home or a car, you likely possess some assets as well as personal belongings that are valuable or sentimental to you. A will ensures these items go to the individuals you choose.
2. Marriage and Divorce
When you get married or remarried, your spouse becomes an integral part of your estate. Do you want them to have part of your property if you die before your new spouse? What do you want them to inherit? Are they bringing children from other relationships into the marriage that you want to provide for if you pass away? These are questions you can answer in a will.
Similarly, the end of a marriage is another critical time to revisit your will. In Texas, the end of a marriage revokes any rights your ex-spouse has as a beneficiary or executor of your estate. However, you should still update your will if your divorce affects your beneficiaries. You may want to reallocate specific property or assets to other beneficiaries.
3. Birth or Adoption of a Child or Grandchild
The arrival of a new child, whether by birth or adoption, is a significant event that should trigger a review of your will or the development of a last will. A will lets you specify how your assets should be distributed to your children or grandchildren when you pass.
More importantly, if you have minor children, a will allows you to appoint a guardian to take care of your kids if you and their other parent pass away. Without a will, the courts decide who will care for your children. However, a will ensures your children will be cared for by someone you trust.
4. Buying or Selling a Home or Property
By buying a home or property, you are adding a substantial asset to your estate. It is likely one of the most valuable assets you have. With a last will and testament, you can include this property as an asset to be sold and distributed among beneficiaries or specify who you want to inherit the property upon your death.
Similarly, if you sell your home or property, this can also significantly impact your estate. The sale could increase your liquid assets, and you should update your will to account for this. For example, if your will previously stated that your home should go to a specific individual, but you have since sold the property, you should revise your will to reflect your current wishes for your assets.
5. Starting or Owning a Business
If you are a business owner, you can use a will to set up a succession plan for your business to help ensure a smooth transition upon your death. Who will take over in the event of your death? What should happen to your business’s assets, and how should they be distributed? These are questions your will can answer.
6. Change in Health Status
If you experience a significant change in your health, such as a serious injury or diagnosis, you may consider getting a will. A serious health condition can shift your perspective on many aspects of life. For example, who do you want to provide for after your death? Who should be the guardian of your minor children if you have any? These are questions you may want to address, and you can with a last will and testament.
Schedule a Consultation With Our Texas Estate Planning Attorneys
These life events underscore the importance of having a last will and testament and keeping it up to date. We recommend reviewing your will every few years or any time you experience a significant life event to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes and objectives.
At Warren & Migliaccio, we assist individuals and families throughout Texas with their estate plans. Our team is here to help you create a last will and testament that aligns with your needs and goals. If you have questions about creating an estate plan that works for you, schedule a consultation with our Texas estate planning lawyers. Fill out our online contact form, and we will contact you soon to book your consultation.