When one dies without a will or other instrument disposing of his/her property, that person dies intestate. The decedent's wishes are irrelevant and his/her assets are distributed according to Texas statutes. In Texas, the surviving spouse and issue are favored. Property will go to the State only if there are no statutory takers that survive the decedent.

By contrast, an individual can direct where his/her assets go if there is a Will. There are formalities that must be followed in order to have a valid Will. Generally, the testator (person who makes the Will), must sign the written Will, have 2 witnesses sign it, and have testamentary intent. Testamentary intent is understanding that he/she is executing a Will and intends that it have testamentary effect.

Probate is the process by which the Court determines whether the Will is a valid Will. If the person dies without a will, probate is the process by which the decedent's heirs are determined.

A personal representative administers the estate. He/she is called an executor if named in a Will and an administrator if there is no Will. This person's job is to administer the decedent's estate according to the Will or Texas statutes.

Several documents will make your plan complete, including:

Will - What do you want to happen to your property and possessions once you pass?

Durable Financial Power of Attorney - Who do you want to make important financial decisions or pay bills if you become incapacitated or incompetent? Who will manage your bank accounts, investments and real estate interests?

Durable Medical Power of Attorney - Who do you want to make important healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or incompetent? These decisions include end of life measures as well as treatments you would or would not like to receive in certain situations.

Declaration of Guardian - This document ensures that the Court will appoint your designated guardian for your minor child(ren).

As difficult as it may be to think about these questions, it is better to have answers while you can still make these decisions for yourself.

Compassionate Guidance Through the Process of Drafting Your Will

Thoughtful and proactive planning for your future can be one of the best gifts you can give your family. With a Will in place, you dictate who your assets will be distributed to. Your family will know who will receive what assets.

Make your wishes known. Early planning eases worry and creates peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Call or contact Michelle lbeling at The Law Office of Carl Knickerbocker, P.C., to schedule your initial planning consultation at 512-943-7551