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Wills and Probate

Estate Planning, Wills and Probate

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney – Serving Conroe, The Woodlands, Houston and Surrounding Areas

Death is a reality

Contemplating the possibility of death or incapacitation can be a truly disconcerting experience. Yet, for many, the thought of “estate planning” is the furthest thing from their mind.  Some believe that an estate is a large house on the lake in a gated community and that there simply is no need to plan for the possibility of death.  For others, they understand you can’t take it with you, but just don’t know where to begin with their estate planning.

An estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, checking and savings accounts, furniture, and yes, even your photo albums. No matter how large or how small, everyone has an estate, and it’s important for you to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about at the end of your life. To ensure your wishes are carried out and that your family and friends do not have the financial and emotional burden of dealing with upset family members or even contested litigation over your estate, it is important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process of creating a will, establishing beneficiaries and understanding your rights and the rights of those you leave behind.

Estate planning in your case may include:

  • Instructions for your care if you become disabled or incapacitated before you die.
  • Name a guardian for minor children.
  • Provide for family members with special needs (paying attention to their current government benefits).
  • Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
  • Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
  • Review options for your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.

While a common misconception is that only elderly people create estate planning packages, estate planning is for everyone.  We cannot predict our life span, and illness and accidents happen to all people, regardless of age.  Forget your financial status- this isn’t about status.  After all, even the families that struggle financially need a good estate plan, because they can afford to lose the least.

Don’t put off estate planning because you don’t think you have enough assets, don’t think you are old enough or think that you have enough time.   Otherwise, you are leaving your family to pick up the pieces.  Remember, without a proper estate plan, upon death your assets will be distributed according to the Texas probate laws, and there will be nothing your loved ones can do about it unless you have a proper estate plan in place. There is a science to determining how best to draft a will and manage risk.  Bradford L. Atkinson can provide you with the legal advice and cost-saving tips you need to prepare your estate and ease the burden on your loved ones after your death.

When a Loved One Dies

The most important fact to keep in mind is that a testator or executor is preserving a legacy of wealth for the heirs and beneficiaries and being named an executor is just the beginning.   Generally, the executor has four years from the date of death to file for probate. Generally, if the executor does not file the will for probate within that prescribed time period, the laws of intestacy will govern how the estate’s assets are distributed.  Estate planning can help ensure that the estate is transferred to the right people and organizations pursuant to your wishes rather than based strictly based on your descendants.

Whether or not the Decedent died with a Will, an application for probate will need to be filed with the court to properly transfer property to the beneficiaries.  Because the Executor has important duties to the beneficiaries and heirs of the estate, it is important to have an experienced Texas probate attorney who can advise you through the probate process. The complexities that can be presented in a probate process can be difficult, especially when there is no will.  The Texas Estate Code details very specific steps to follow through during the probate process.  The Court will appoint a person to be responsible for administering the estate.  The probate process can be a daunting and overwhelming experience-  Bradford L. Atkinson can provide you with the legal advice and cost-saving tips you need to negotiate through a probate case.

To learn more about estate planning and probating an estate and discuss the issues specific to your own circumstances, please complete the contact information on this page to schedule a consultation with Mr. Atkinson.

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  • Conroe Office
    322 Metcalf Street
    Conroe, Texas 77301
    Phone: 936-230-5462
    Fax: 832-442-4886