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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Friday, June 26, 2020

Lifestyles of the Planners and Savers

by Stacey K. Skillman

Attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC

We have all read the headlines of celebrities passing away without a Will, leading to sometimes bitter and always expensive and prolonged court proceedings. Turns out that not having a Will is not just for the rich and famous. A recent poll conducted by Caring.com shows that 68% of adult Americans do not have Wills.[1] You don’t have to be in that club.

People who pass away leaving a Will can pass on more property to their family and loved ones in less time. The reason they can pass on more property is that it will generally cost less for your family and loved ones to handle your estate if you had a Will than if you did not have a Will. In addition, the court process, which is known as “probate,” generally takes less time for estates where there is a Will than for estates where there is no Will. The process of finalizing a Will and the other related documents that go hand-in-hand with a Will, such as a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to physicians (also known as a living will), and a HIPAA authorization, is known as “estate planning.”

If you do not have a Will, the State of Texas will write your Will for you, and it is probably not the Will that you would write for yourself. For example, if you are married and you have children, but the person to whom you are married is not the biological father or mother of your children, when you pass away, your property will pass to your children in equal shares, not your surviving spouse. Your surviving spouse does have the ability to stay in the marital homestead for as long as he or she wishes during his or her lifetime, but your other assets will pass to your children, with some complicated exceptions that are subject to the probate court process. But you can write your own Will and provide for your loved ones as YOU wish. Writing a Will is truly a gift to your loved ones.

We are often asked: “Do I really need a Will?” Our answer to this question is almost always a resounding “Yes!” Here are some guidelines for helping you determine for yourself if you need a Will. You probably need a Will if you are over age 18 and you own property, such as a home, other real estate, or a bank account. In addition, you probably need a Will if you are a parent; you have found a life partner; someone else, such as a parent or sibling, is dependent on you; you have a job that provides you with employee benefits; you wish to provide for your four-legged friends; you are a business owner; or you are a person who is passionate about a charity and you wish to leave a gift to that charity when you pass away.

The estate planning process is something that you can do. You start the process by contacting an attorney who specializes in estate planning. The attorney will discuss with you your wishes and your unique situation and answer your questions. Based on that discussion, you and the attorney will design and implement a plan that carries out your wishes. As a result of the estate planning process, you will have peace of mind that your loved ones will be provided for, save yourself money, save your loved ones money, and leave your loved ones with a plan they can follow that honors you and your life’s work.

Stacey K. Skillman is an associate attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm practicing in estate planning, probate, guardianships, elder law, and civil appeals founded by managing attorney Julia Dean. Julia Dean has been recognized as a Top Attorney and Leading Advisor by Acquisition International, Forbes, Newsweek, H Texas, Houstonia, and the Sugar Land Sun, and has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s Client Distinction Award. The Dean Law Firm has been named “Texas’ Most Outstanding Estate Planning Boutique” by Acquisition International for the year 2019 and is also named “Best Law Firm of the Year” by Lawyer International Legal 100 for the year 2019. The Dean Law Firm is committed to bringing you peace of mind by providing thoughtful estate planning for your family.


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The Dean Law Firm, PLLC assists clients in Sugar Land, TX and throughout Houston in Fort Bend County and Harris County.



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