Wills are a very common document that most people have heard of. In short, a will is a document that speaks for you after you die. A will can inform people of your burial requests and it can also bequeath property. You should always tell your loved ones about your burial wishes as your will may be discovered or read too late to honor your wishes. However, if you make a will through a family law lawyer and inform your relatives where you keep your will then they should know all of your wishes in a timely manner.

Dying Without a Will

If you die without a will, the state will determine what happens to your estate through probate. Usually the state will pass your estate onto a spouse, child or sibling. If no relative can be located, your estate will pass to the state. If you have minor children, the state will place your children in a home. Typically this will be a spouse or the other biological parent. In the event that the spouse or biological parent is absent or unfit, minor children may be placed in foster care. Be sure to talk to your family law lawyer about these issues when discussing creating a will.

Same Sex Relationships & Wills

If you are in a same sex relationship in a state that does not recognize such unions such as Texas, the state will not recognize inheritance rights for your partner. This means that an estranged relative will have more legal rights to your estate than your partner. Essentially, your partner could be left destitute. A family law lawyer can help make sure this does not happen.

These are unnecessary risks. The drafting of a will is a part of estate planning with a family law lawyer and is covered under estate law. Technically, you do not need a lawyer to write a will but there are technicalities that must be included in a will that make it legal. A will without those technicalities runs a high risk of not being recognized by the courts or being challenged by a relative.

Disinheriting a Relative, Leaving Charity, Etc.

When you get into complex situations such as disinheriting a relative, wishing to leave parts of your estate to a charity or church or if you are part of a same sex relationship, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal council with a family law lawyer when drafting a will. It is best to have legal advice when dealing with anything out of the ordinary.

Family Law Lawyers & Wills

Even if you plan on having a normal will, you may wish to seek legal council with a “family law lawyer.” Many times people remember the bigger picture when drafting their own wills such as what to do with the children, the home and maybe a few specific heirlooms but they will often forget little things. Also, an estate lawyer can help you shift your assets to reduce the tax burden of those you are bequeathing items to.

Drafting a Will

When drafting a will, you will need to name someone who will be the executor of the will. This should be a person you trust who will handle the communications about your wishes. This person is the one who will inform your family of your burial wishes. This person also needs to be strong enough to fight for your wishes in the event that other family members want to argue.

What About Informal Oral Wills?

By all means you should communicate your wishes with your loved ones but oral wills are very difficult to prove in court. To be certain, you should convey your wishes orally and in written format with the help of your family law lawyer.

What about Informal Handwritten Wills?

These are called holographic wills. These are considered valid in less than half of the states. They are better than oral wills but not by much. These wills run a high risk of being misinterpreted and/or challenged. If you are writing it while alone then no one can verify that you were of sound mind when writing it. Even states that recognize such “holographic wills” require that the wills be signed and dated. When this type of will goes before a probate judge, the courts are especially strict when trying to determine if they are legitimate. There have been too many cases where someone has forged a will and this forces the courts to be extra careful with these wills. Additionally, not everyone communicates well via the written word. If you do not have good guidance from a family law lawyer while drafting this type of will, you run a high risk of being vague or even contradictory.

One of the key points of a will is designating a guardian for your minor children. In most cases, people will name their spouse as the guardian. What many people neglect is the tragic scenario of both of you being killed in some kind of accident. You should always name a second guardian if the first guardian is your spouse. Also, if your children are young, they may not be mature enough to handle all of the affairs of your estate. They may not yet be mature enough to be fiscally responsible. If this is a concern of yours, you may want to discuss setting up a trust for minor children. A trust can avoid probate and it will keep minors from being overwhelmed with financial decisions. Depending upon the trust you set up, your minor children will still inherit your estate but in a controlled manner.

Wills are too important to leave to chance. Use a family law lawyer to provide advice and guidance and avoid making mistakes with something as important as your will.

Please call us today at 281-362-2865 or complete our contact form and let us assist you with your legal need.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
Serving The Woodlands, Spring, Houston, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Cypress, Huntsville, Cleveland, Stafford, Montgomery County, Harris County, West Oaks, Memorial, Sugar
Land, River Oaks, Alief, Stafford, Missouri City, and Southwest Houston Texas.