In Texas and nationwide, many persons in private industry had to make adjustments to their estate planning over recent years as their pension plans took a hit from the recession and other economic pitfalls. The problem is now surfacing with respect to some veterans and their military pensions. VA benefits may be denied or discontinued under new rules, thereby making it imperative for some veterans to revise their estate planning strategies accordingly.
It is prudent to take the steps to create an estate plan early on so that everything will be prepared in case some untimely health problem arises in one's later years. If a person becomes disabled and unable to care for his or her own financial affairs, there are critical estate planning tools here in Texas and in other jurisdictions that should be in place. Thus, for example, a power of attorney giving authority to the maker's chosen representative, if put in place early enough in life, will assure that the right person will be taking care of one's affairs.
One of the most compelling reasons to do estate planning is that it can save thousands of dollars prior to and after death. However, it's not something to do with some pumped-up forms on the Internet. A Texas resident will always do better by using experienced professional assistance in estate planning matters that involve the application of the law to one's personal and financial circumstances.
Living trusts can be an essential aspect of a person's estate plan. Estate planning in Texas and everywhere else utilizes a will to dispose of any assets owned at the date of death by the testator, who is the person who made the will. Estate planning uses living trusts to dispose of assets during life with the option of making the transfer of assets either revocable or irrevocable.
Estate planning with respect to federal estate taxes is fairly easy for most people: the person's estate at death has to be larger than $5.43 million in gross value to be subject to federal tax. Some states, however, collect an inheritance or other type of death tax. Texas does not have an inheritance or other death tax, making estate planning for taxes a fairly easy tax for the average Texas resident.
The federal estate tax does not kick in unless a person's estate is worth more than $5,340,000. Most people do not have to worry too much about the federal estate tax, therefore, when they do their estate planning. However, some states have an inheritance or death tax that applies to estates of a far lower value. Texas currently does not have an inheritance or estate tax, but there is always a possibility of change, so that it is advisable to check with an estate attorney to find out of whether there is an inheritance tax in the state.
There are many reasons why an estate plan in Texas might include the use of living revocable trusts. Such living trusts give the grantor the opportunity to distribute assets while alive and to fashion trusts in the shape and manner desired to provide for one's heirs. Because they are revocable, the grantor retains control over the assets should changes be desired.
Mistakes in the estate plans of recently deceased celebrities can be useful learning examples for residents of Texas or elsewhere. For example, a living trust is attractive to celebrities and many people because the terms remain private: it does not go through the public probate process at death. However, a seemingly unimportant estate planning mishap can defeat one of its major goals.
There's generally no good reason in Texas or elsewhere why you can't have both a traditional testamentary will and a living trust at the same time. Both of these legal instruments specify what should be done with certain assets upon the owner's death. Living trusts are similar to wills in that respect but the assets are conveyed to the control of the trust during life. In the case of the will, the assets are not transferred until after death and probate of the will.
In Texas and anywhere else, elderly family members sometimes die without leaving all of the pertinent information to guide their heirs in processing matters as they would have wished. There are matters, such as papers relating to the right to a military burial, that may be never passed on to assure that such a burial occurs. One woman's right to have her remains cremated and scattered at sea was never confirmed prior to death. Special circumstances like these must be incorporated into estate planning documentation and discussed with family members during the loved one's life.