Deer Park Lawyer

Wills and Probate

Why should you have a will?

If you die without a Will, the Texas Probate Code decides how your estate is divided, NOT YOU!
You can leave specific dollar amounts or items to family or friends using a Will.

A person who leaves behind a valid Will gets to choose who will be his or her executor instead of having a Probate Judge choose someone. The costs of distributing your estate are usually a lot less under a Will.

Do parents of young children need wills?

If both parents die, their Wills can direct who will be the Guardian of their children, a choice probate courts usually respect. If parents die without a Will, a judge who never met you will decide who will raise your kids. A Will also allows parents to establish trusts to manage their estates for their children until the kids reach an age the parent chooses in his or her Will.

Why do single or divorced parents need Wills?

A divorced or single parent may not want the kids' father or mother to manage the money they inherit (and vice versa). A Will allows you to make choices for your children.

What other important estate planning documents do I need?

Most people should plan for their future by executing the following documents:

  • The Durable Power of Attorney designates a person to manage your financial affairs in case you become mentally or physically unable to do so.
  • A Health Care Power of Attorney allows a person you choose to make medical decisions for you and consent to medical procedures should you become mentally or physically unable to do so.
  • The Directive to Physicians (also known as the "Living Will") instructs your doctor to disconnect your life support systems if you are suffering from an incurable or irreversible condition.

All of these documents allow you to make important decisions for yourself and help avoid placing the burden of deciding such things on your family.

Questions to answer:

A lawyer drafting a Will for you needs answers to the following questions:

  • Who do you want to leave your estate to? Usually, people leave their estate to their spouse and then to their children if their spouse does not survive them.
    • Will you any have specific bequests? Examples of specific bequests are,"my china set to my oldest daughter, Sue," or,"the blue antique vase to Paul, my nephew."
    • Who will you appoint to be your Executor? The Executor is the person responsible for winding up your financial affairs after you die and distributing your Estate. Married couples usually designate each other as their Executors. Most people chose a back-up Executor in case the first person named cannot serve.
    • Who will be the Guardian of your children if both parents die before the kids reach age 18?
    • Will you establish trusts to handle money and property for your children? The Trustee you choose will manage your Estate for your children as you direct until they reach a certain age you choose. Many parents decide children can receive their inheritances at age 25.

The Probate Process

It is not always necessary to go through the Probate Court to probate the Will of a person who has died. There are several simple, inexpensive ways to handle small estates, which a qualified probate attorney may recommend. On the other hand, it may be advisable to probate a Will or to get an estate administrator appointed if there is no Will.

We are available to discuss the necessary legal actions after a loved one has died.

Estate Taxes

Most people do not leave behind enough money or property to incur estate taxes because currently those taxes apply only to large estates worth. However, if your estate includes life insurance, 401K plans and Individual Retirement Accounts. A refinery worker with $500,000 in life insurance, $200,000 in a pension plan, a house and cars may leave an estate large enough to incur estate taxes. Many people seek estate planning to avoid or minimize estate taxes. If a married person dies and his or her spouse is still living, a "marital" deduction usually avoids estate taxes. Some people with just larger estates do not worry about estate taxes if their estates will have plenty of cash (such as the estate of the hypothetical refinery worker above with the large savings plan account and life insurance). Estate planning for wealthy people is very complex and best left to specialists. This law firm does not do such estate planning, but we will refer you to lawyers who do.

*The amount exempt from federal estate taxes is set to slowly increase over the next few years.

A fordable Family Estate Planning Package

For just $300.00 per person, Dennis M. Slate, P.C.. will prepare the following estate planning documents:

  • Simple Will ($200 by itself)
  • Directive to Physicians ("Living Will")
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • HIPPA Release Forms

The firm does not do complex estate planning and the Will included in this package is a simple will. There will be additional charges for preparing a complex or unique will.




Dennis M. Slate, Attorney at Law - Deer Park Attorney
Located at 112 East Forrest Lane Deer Park, TX 77536. View Map
Phone: (281) 476-9447
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