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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Change Your Excuses into Resolutions!

If you’re pondering resolutions to choose for 2023, consider resolving to establish your estate planning documents, such as a Will or Living Trust. A 2022 survey by revealed that only 1 in 3 Americans had estate planning documents, such as a Will or Living Trust. Below are the top four excuses that Americans give for not creating an estate plan.

  • I haven’t gotten around to it. Your potential death or incapacity is not a pleasant subject to think about, so it’s easy to procrastinate. However, when the unexpected happens, such as an incapacity or death, and you and your family will be unprepared.
  • I don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone. Many believe that their estate is just not worth enough to set up an estate plan but later discover that certain assets must be probated. For example, when one spouse dies, their interest in the home will not automatically pass to the survivor. The survivor will need to probate the home if they want to sell or refinance the home. A financial account without a beneficiary designation or JTWROS owner will also need to go through probate. Sometimes the cost of probate is so much higher than the value of the probate assets that your family members end up losing money to distribute your assets.
  • I don’t know how to get a Will or Living Trust. You can contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss setting up a Will or a Living Trust.
  • It’s too expensive. Not having documents in place will cost more money than you saved not creating your estate plan. If you are incapacitated and cannot make your own financial or medical decisions, your family will need to petition the court to be appointed as your guardian. If you die without a Will, your family will need to undergo a determination of heirship to declare your legal heirs. In both cases, your family members will need to hire an attorney, go to court, and the court will appoint an attorney ad litem to investigate your capacity or your heirs. An uncontested case will cost thousands of dollars, and much more if family members don’t all agree.

You should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to set up your estate plan. If you are within the poverty line, programs such as Lone Star Legal Aid and Houston Volunteer Lawyers are available to assist you with setting up simple estate planning documents. Don’t keep making excuses – resolve to establish your estate plan, so you’re ready for what 2023 has in store.

Julia “Jules” Pullin is an attorney at The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm practicing in estate planning, probate, guardianships, and elder law. The Dean Law Firm, PLLC, has been named in the Top Five Top Estate Planning Firms by the Houston Chronicle, Reader’s Choice by Living Magazine, “Texas’ Most Outstanding Estate Planning Boutique” by Acquisition International and “Best Law Firm of the Year” by Lawyer International Legal 100.

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