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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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San Antonio trusts attorneyIf you are leaning towards using a trust over a will as your primary testamentary tool, you are among countless others making the same smart choice. Using a trust allows your loved ones to bypass probate, which can be very complicated in Texas. Often, trust administration is much smoother and allows distributions to be made to your beneficiaries much more expediently. Trusts can also help you avoid the expense associated with probate so that more money stays in your loved ones’ hands.

One key factor in how smoothly your trust can be administrated is your choice of trustee. The individual you choose may have some discretion in making distributions and will be responsible for managing any property or funds in the trust. It is important to make the right selection, as a poor choice could cause headaches for your beneficiaries down the road. You should discuss your options with an attorney before making a final decision. 

Advice on Appointing a Good Trustee

Of course, your trustee should be someone you trust, but there is often more to it than that. You also need to make sure this individual has strong money management skills and good judgment. Some factors to consider include: 

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Texas estate planning attorneyWhen you are still in the prime of your life, estate planning may not seem important at all. You have no reason to anticipate needing one anytime soon, and you may not have children or a spouse to worry about protecting. As a younger adult, you have also had less time to accumulate property, so you might not feel that deciding how to distribute it is very important. This could be a big mistake. Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Your personal circumstances, from your health to your wealth to who you would want your beneficiaries to be can change very quickly. Aside from that, there is much, much more to estate planning than simply making a will or trust. Wherever you are in life, having a legally sound estate plan in place can offer an additional layer of security to both you and your loved ones. A qualified lawyer can help you take the next steps. 

Why Should I Have an Estate Plan at All?

First, you should know that your estate plan will encompass important medical planning documents like a living will and health care powers of attorney. These documents are your voice should something happen so that you cannot speak for yourself. For most young people, your parents would be the de facto decision-makers in this type of situation. If you do not see eye-to-eye with them regarding how you would want to be treated - or not treated - these documents are not optional. 

Further, you might be surprised at how much property you actually have when you stop to add it all up. Think about what you owned two years ago even as opposed to now. Even without a family of your own, there is likely someone, whether that is a friend, family member, or charity that you would want your belongings to benefit. Estate planning is your opportunity to leave a legacy on the off chance that you never attain an advanced age. 

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