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Thinking about the end of your life is never easy, but having a plan in place if something happens to you or you pass away is vital. A comprehensive estate plan enables you to safeguard your legacy and pass on your estate to loved ones, ensuring those who matter to you most receive the care they deserve in your absence.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our San Antonio estate planning attorneys will help you develop an estate plan that strategically protects your assets.
Before diving into how estate plans in Texas typically function, it may be useful to understand common estate planning phrases. You should familiarize yourself with the following terms as you progress with your estate plan:
Estate plans are typically comprised of various legally binding, enforceable contracts stating what happens to the owner of an estate and their property should they become incapacitated or pass away.
There are three types of documents that regularly comprise estate plans:
Trusts and wills have different requirements to be legally enforceable.
For a trust to be legally binding, the grantor must develop a written document detailing the terms of the trust and sign it in front of a notary.
For a will to be legally binding, the testator must sign it in front of at least two witnesses, who must also then sign the will.
Both trusts and last wills and testaments allow a grantor or testator to distribute their property among beneficiaries. However, they do so in different ways.
Property distributed through a will must go through probate. During probate, the court helps an executor or personal administrator (either named in the will or appointed by the court) distribute a decedent’s property. Probate can be a long, expensive process, particularly if the estate involves valuable property or beneficiaries disagree with the will.
Conversely, property distributed through a trust doesn’t go through probate. As a result, many people choose to distribute complex or valuable property through a trust. The most common type of trust is a living revocable trust, which can be modified throughout a person’s lifetime.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we help clients develop comprehensive estate plans that protect their interests and assets.