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Making an estate plan

Texas individuals who fail to create an estate plan may put their wealth and heirs in jeopardy. The laws of intestacy take over when wills are not in place, so some intended beneficiaries may not receive anything under a particular state's laws. Additionally, the estate may have to pay out money in taxes that otherwise could have gone to beneficiaries if a solid estate plan was in place. While some individuals may avoid creating an estate plan so that they do not have to think about what will happen if they die, drafting a basic will does not have to be a somber process.

An estate plan can consist of more than just a means of distributing property. It can put more power in a person's hands in case of incapacitation or unavailability. For example, a person can establish a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy to handle financial and medical decisions, respectively. This can help provide for a plan in the worst case scenario, rather than having a court appoint a person to the task that is not fit for the job.

An important step of establishing an estate plan is to create an inventory of assets. By being aware of the value and type of assets at one's disposal, an individual can better plan for his or her future needs. This inventory should include the name of each account, location, value and beneficiary designated.

Estate planning documents are intended to be organic. Accordingly, it is important that they be periodically reviewed and updated if personal or financial circumstances change.

Source: Fox Business, "4 Tips to Begin the Estate-Planning Process", Kathryn Buschman Vasel, November 22, 2013

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