Month: March 2014

DOES PAYABLE-ON-DEATH NEGATE THE NEED FOR WILLS AND TRUSTS ADMINISTRATION IN TEXAS?

Wills and trusts administration in Texas can be somewhat complicated, and some folks are looking to avoid the hassle-not to mention the expense-by using other means. For example, many accounts and policies have a “payable on death” option wherein you simply name a beneficiary. Other assets may also be passed via a beneficiary designation. So, does this really circumvent the need for wills and trusts administration?

As with just about any area of law, the answer is not straightforward. For the most part, though, leaving your assets in this way can be pretty risky. A will and/or trust is a much more thorough way of covering your bases and ensuring that your wishes are truly followed.

There are a few ways that this other model can go wrong. For example, if you have named a beneficiary who passes away before you do, the holder of the account can give it to someone else; and you will not have a say in this. A person might try to work around this by naming a minor as the beneficiary, but there are also considerable problems with this, as minors typically cannot receive assets. The same is true for those who are incapacitated. Instead, a guardian will be named for the assets, and you will have no control over how he or she chooses to use them.

Through wills and trusts administration, however, you can set things up to work the way you want them to. The very same accounts and assets can be left to one or more trusts, for example, with you naming the trustee and designating what you would like to have happen with your money or other valuable items.

Working with a wills and trusts lawyer in Houston has other benefits, too. Leaving your assets to a trust can help avoid the probate process, for example. Many people also appreciate the fact that certain kinds of trusts can save the estate and your beneficiaries considerable taxes. Estate taxes are controversial, to say the least, and putting together wills and trusts can help avoid many of the charges that would otherwise be assessed.

While it is reasonable to consider using the payable-on-death option or beneficiary designation, an estate planning attorney will often steer clients toward utilizing wills and trusts administration instead because it will generally afford you more control over your assets and allow you to leave more behind for your loved ones.