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San Antonio estate planning lawyerIf you have started to look into estate planning a bit, you have probably read over and over that trusts are rapidly becoming the preferred means of testamentary transfer. Certainly, there are numerous benefits of using a trust over a will. Using a trust can allow your beneficiaries to skip a lengthy and costly probate process. It also keeps the handling of your estate private rather than public, reducing the odds of a contest. And, you can use a trust to make controlled distributions over time instead of giving someone - especially a very young adult - one lump sum. 

With all of this in mind, you might wonder why anyone at all still bothers with making a will. There are certain situations in which it is wise to use a will in addition to a trust. Wills are still useful in modern estate planning for many, as they can sometimes accomplish goals that a trust cannot. 

When Should I Use a Will?

In any of the following situations apply to you, you may need a will, even if you are primarily using trusts: 

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San Antonio estate planningIf you already have an estate plan, when is the last time you pulled it out and looked over it? If it has been a while, you might want to revisit it. People’s lives change over time. Laws change. Families change. It is a wise idea to review your estate planning documents periodically to ensure that the plan you have is still the plan you want.

Estate planning can be an emotional process for some, so it is understandable if you are reluctant to visit the subject more than once. However, even a quick review to make sure that your wishes are still accurately expressed can go a long way towards protecting both you and your loved ones. There are also a few trigger events that should prompt you to take a look at your estate planning documents. Most changes to an existing estate plan can be made relatively quickly and easily with a lawyer’s help. 

When Should I Revisit My Estate Planning Documents?

You may want to review and possibly edit your existing estate plan if one of the following life events takes place: 

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Texas probate lawyerProbate can be very complicated. Even relatively straightforward probate cases involving smaller estates can be challenging if even one step goes slightly awry. Whether your loved one left a will or not, a problem that arises during any one step can lead to long delays and more expenses. There are generally six steps, or phases, of the probate process in Texas. Some steps are trickier than others. Some may go quickly, and others may seem to drag on forever. Most people could greatly benefit from a lawyer’s assistance in navigating the process. 

Regardless of the complexity of the estate, it is typically easier to manage if you have a lawyer on board from the beginning. Our team has the experience needed to anticipate and be prepared for any potential difficulties during probate. 

What to Expect During Texas Probate

Each step in the probate process must be completed correctly and in order before any distributions can be made. The six steps are: 

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San Antonio estate planningSome families are very open about their estate plans and what their end-of-life wishes are. Some parents will tell their children who will be getting what completely unprompted. They may give their children copies of their wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives. This is the wise approach in most cases. Other families are less open about the subject. Estate planning can be an unwelcome reminder of human mortality. You may not even want to think about your parents one day passing away, or they may not want to consider it themselves. Nevertheless, it is important that you have this conversation. While adults of all ages should have an estate plan, it is especially important for older adults. If you have not yet spoken to your aging parents about their estate planning, now may be the time. 

Why Is Having This Conversation Urgent?

When your parents are getting on in years, there is a substantial chance that they may be impacted by age-related illnesses that affect their cognitive function. Their estate planning must be completed before they lose the mental capacity to execute legal documents. It is impossible to tell whether or when the effects of aging will become apparent, so it is best that aging adults do not wait much longer to make an estate plan. 

Tips for Discussing Estate Planning With Your Parents

You know your parents probably better than anyone else. It is important to consider how they may react to different approaches to the subject. Here are some tips for broaching the topic of estate planning with your aging parents: 

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San Antonio estate planning lawyerSome families talk openly about subjects like death and estate plans. Others are uncomfortable discussing these sometimes difficult subjects. Talking about making a will can be upsetting for some, as it can serve as an unwelcome reminder that a loved one will not be here forever. If your family falls into the latter camp, you may not know much about your loved one’s estate plan. You may not even know where they put it or if they had one at all.

When it comes time to start settling your family member’s estate, you may have a limited window of time to locate their will. This can be a difficult task. Many older adults still keep hard copies of important documents, which can make your search all the more difficult. After years of practice, the attorneys at Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law have learned a few strategies for locating seemingly lost wills. 

Where Should I Look If I Cannot Find My Loved One’s Will?

Grieving for a family member is difficult enough without the added stress of not being able to find their estate planning documents. A few helpful tips that may point you in the direction of a lost will include: 

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