Frequently Asked Questions

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The Estate Planning process comes with many questions. Davidson Law Group provides answers to some of the most common questions about Estate Planning.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Estate Planning process comes with many questions. Davidson Law Group provides answers to some of the most common questions about Estate Planning.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal procedure by which a court recognizes a person’s death and approves the initiation of the administration of that person’s estate. The process will occur regardless of whether the person died with or without a Last Will and Testament. It is in your family’s best interest to avoid Probate because it can become a financial burden, it can be time-consuming, and it is a public record. Starting the Estate Planning process early can help you or your loved ones avoid having to deal with Probate.

What is Joint Tenancy
with Rights of Survivorship? |

Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship means that in the event of a spouse’s (asset co-owner’s) death, the surviving spouse (asset co-owner) will receive ownership of the assets. This can help avoid the arduous Probate process as well as save time and money. However, there are pitfalls with Joint Tenancy like exposing your assets to the liabilities of others, so it is very important to discuss this option while going through the Estate Planning process with your attorney.

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| What is a Will?

Although a will does not help avoid the Probate process, it is a signed legal document that distributes assets according to the wishes of a decedent after his or her death. A will does not have any legal authority until the person passes away. Then the Will is presented in Probate court and addressed according to the document. Even though the Probate process is still involved when someone passes away with a Will, it is still advised that every person who has minor children or any assets have at least a Will. Additionally, your property and family arrangements can be protected even further with Testamentary Trusts created within the Will.

What is a Living Will (Advanced Medical Directive)? |

A Living Will is a signed document that outlines your wishes regarding end of life decisions and medical life support in case you are incapable of expressing your wishes on your own. An Advanced Medical Directive or Living Will is usually executed along side a Medical Power of Attorney so that in case you have a terminal condition without reasonable hope of recovery, someone has the authority to carry out the wishes expressed in the Living Will.

| What Does Inestacy Mean?

Intestacy means that the legislature of your state will decide who will receive your assets and when they will receive them if you die without a Will or any other type of Estate Planning. All of this process is overseen by the Probate Court and can be expensive and time-consuming. Unfortunately, around 70% of Americans pass away without even creating a Will.

| What are Beneficiary Designations in Estate Planning?

Using Beneficiary Designations is one way to determine who receives your assets after you die without necessarily having to go through the Probate Process. In Texas, some examples of Beneficiary Designation mechanism include insurance, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and certain types of deeds.

What is a Power of Attorney and When Do I Need One?

A Durable Financial Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint trusted people to make financial and healthcare decisions for you on your behalf if you become unable to do so. Without Powers of Attorney, the Probate Court will designate someone to be in charge of the decisions through a Guardianship under the supervision of the court. It is recommended that if you do not have Powers of Attorney, you get them as soon as possible. These documents can be drafted while creating your Estate Plan.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A Revocable Living trust is an agreement between a Trust-Maker, a Trustee/Trust Manager, and Beneficiaries. This agreement is a legal entity that determines the ownership of a person’s assets after they die. Typically while the individual is alive, they play all three roles of the Living Trust. A good example would be that a husband and wife would make themselves all three of these roles to create the Trust, manage the assets within the Trust, and have complete control and enjoyment of the Trust while they are alive. When that individual becomes unable to make decisions, the responsibility is passed to the successor trustee or back-up manager. The successor trustee then distributes the assets to the beneficiaries after the trust-maker dies. Living Trusts can also eliminate taxes on the Estate of the trust-maker as well as help avoid Probate Proceedings.

Who Should Have a Revocable Living Trust?

We recommend that anybody, regardless of age, wealth, marital status, or life stage, who owns any assets in his or her own name, including a house, consider creating a Revocable Living Trust. This type of Trust Plan can help to eliminate taxes, avoid Probate, and consolidate all of your assets under one succinct plan.