Taking the time to create a plan for your family is very important. It is even more important in stepfamilies. In the State of Texas, if you don’t make the decision on how you want your property divided, then the laws of the state will.
For instance, if you are married now, and have children from a previous marriage or relationship, the law specifies how your personal property and real estate will be divided without a will. A few unintended consequences could be:
a) your current spouse inheriting specific property that you wanted your children to have;
b) your current spouse and your children end up co-owning property;
c) all of your separate property real estate (owned by you before your current marriage) being owned by your children when your surviving spouse dies, even if it is an unfair result;
d) your children from different relationships who don’t really know each other inheriting assets together;
e) your children owning 2/3 of your separate property (other than real estate) and your spouse owning 1/3;
f) minor children inheriting real estate, an interest in a business or other assets with no plan as to how to proceed from there;
These particular results can be a real problem in certain situations. Consider this: What if the “property” is a family business? What if the above distribution is impractical or inequitable for various reasons? What if it isn’t easy to tell who owns an asset, when it was purchased, or how certain assets were commingled over the years? What if the person who inherits something is unable or unwilling to take care of it, or to cooperate with other beneficiaries? What if an ex spouse ends up involved, much to everyone’s discomfort?
Figuring out what to do when there is no plan is tough, and hiring professionals to help can be expensive. Along with the practical aspects, it is important to also realize that the family will be grieving and dealing with other strong emotions, and some family members may not know or trust each other. In addition, the assets should not be allowed to deteriorate or go into foreclosure.
The good news is this: There is a way to prevent this from happening! Have a consult with a Texas estate planning attorney. It may be the most thoughtful gift that you ever gave your family.
Se habla español
Since 1984 The Woodlands, Texas