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Why Wills and Estate Planning Documents Are Best When Everyone is Healthy

This holiday season is one like no other, and with concerns of health and those who have passed, the conversation about wills and estate planning is important. While some families enjoy traditional Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’ celebrations with immediate and extended families, many are not together in-person this season. Because of COVID-19, flu, and other health concerns, many are sticking around home and doing family Zoom calls.

Thinking back to last year, many had no clue what was about to hit in 2020. Was the best of times with certain loved ones already passed? Did someone in the family get sick with Coronavirus and is having a hard time bouncing back? Is the table setting for the holidays forever a question moving forward?

American Psychological Association: Coronavirus Anxiety

Giving family members the best gift this holiday season, give the gift of peace of mind. Please set aside time to talk about and move forward with wills and estate planning. Especially among families with senior parents, it is an easier discussion about the end of life while everyone is still alive and well. Not resolving issues among family members now, can make it so much worse later. Nobody wants to end up in a contested probate case with heated arguments with family. Attorney Leslie Barrows says, “Trust me, it is so much easier on everyone to plan for the inevitable when everyone is happy and in good health.”

How COVID-19 Affected Our Notions of Health and Living Forever

No matter how well anyone is prepared for the loss of a loved one, the reality of death is always difficult and it brings up all kinds of reactions and emotions. When a family member becomes sick with COVID-19, it hits the whole family. To make uncomfortable matters worse, an aging parent with pre-existing health concerns could be the subject of a family arguing over COVID safety. And if someone is pointing a finger at another, if a family member gets sick or dies from Coronavirus, the gloves start coming off.

By talking about the inevitabilities in life, it can be easier for everybody to prepare for a loved one’s last days.

Get Power of Attorney of Healthcare and Property Established Before It Becomes Too Late

When a loved one is not able to make their own decisions about healthcare and property, their appointed power of attorney can manage their affairs, sign documents, and enter into appropriate agreements on their behalf. Power of attorney documents become effective when triggered by a certain event, like the temporary or permanent incapacity of another. For example, being in a medically induced coma will cause a power of attorney’s right to make important care decisions about a loved one.

Read more about power of attorney options in this blog article: Texas wills, and estate planning for everyone, all adults.

Becoming Executor of a Family Member’s Estate: Avoiding Will Contests and Litigation in the Future

In Texas, the executor of an estate plays an important role. When preparing a will and estate planning documents it is important to understand the roles of an executor. In many families, the individual preparing their will and estate planning affairs will let other members of the family know who the executor will be when the time comes. That way, everyone can accept the present intent and wishes of the person making these important decisions.

What Does the Executor Do?

  • Executors locate and communicate with the beneficiaries named in the last will and testament of the deceased.
  • Providing notice to the creditors, and paying the bills of the decedent is the job of the executor.
  • The executor identifies protects, and manages the assets of the decedent for proper distribution, as stated in their will.
  • Executors prepare and direct the filing of the decedent’s final tax returns.
  • Accounting for the assets and payments made, and distribution to heirs is the executor’s job.

Kiplinger: 7 Tips on Choosing the Right Executor for Your Will

Too often there are disagreements among family members and the named executor, so making that decision and letting others know while everyone is well and healthy can protect family members from will contests and litigation.

What Happens When Mom or Dad Live In Another State?

Believe it or not, some of our 28 million Texans grew up in, or have parents living in other states. When wills and estate planning documents are prepared in other states, and a parent or loved one passes as a resident of another state, children in Texas may need to become involved in the process, particularly when named as the executor in the will.

An executor in Texas, named in a will in Georgia, for example, can do much of what is necessary by email and phone calls. As well they might need to travel to Georgia, or another state to exercise their duties as executors. When the laws of another state apply, the executor can hire an attorney in that other state to assist. Likewise, if the decedent is a Texas resident, and the executor is out of state, that executor can hire a probate attorney in Texas.

Setting Up Wills, Trusts, and Other Estate Planning Documents To Avoid Probate

In some families, the preparations take place so that the person who passes, distributes their assets and liabilities directly to beneficiaries without going through probate. The process of probate is the court’s formal process for receiving a will and overseeing the executor in their duties. When problems arise in the process of probate, litigation can be serious and expensive. For this reason, many families use trusts and other estate planning documents so that assets pass without probate.

For more information about family matters, including wills and estate planning, contact the Barrows Firm (817) 481-1583.