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What is a Will?

A Will is a document that states who you want to receive your property, both real and person, when you pass away. A will identifies the individual you want to administer your estate following your death. If you have minor children, you can also name in your Will the individual(s) you desire to be guardian of your children in the event you pass away prior to their reaching adulthood.

Who should I give my property to?

By making a Will, you can give your property to anyone you please. You can give everything you own to one person, divide up your property based on percentages (e.g.50% to Jane and 50% to John, etc.), or you can give specific items to specific people (e.g. all my stock in Microsoft to Jim and my homestead property to Sue, etc.).

What is a personal representative?

A personal representative is the generic title for the individual appointed to handle a deceased person's estate. If the Decedent dies with a Will, the person named under his or her Will is the executor, if male, or executrix, if female. If the Decedent dies without a Will, the person appointed by the Court is called the administrator, if male, or administratrix, if female.

Who should I name as my executor or executrix under my Will?

You can name anyone you please. However, depending on the size of your estate, this person should be able to handle and manage money and should be able to communicate well with the beneficiaries of your Estate.

Can the executor or executrix be a beneficiary under my Will?

Yes. Many people name a beneficiary as the executor or executrix. This is especially common when you are leaving your entire estate to one person, like your spouse.

Does a Will have to be probated?

It depends on what assets are in your estate. If you have bank accounts that the bank is not allowing anyone access to or real property that is titled in the name of the Decedent, you must have the Will probate in order to get access to the account and to transfer title to the real estate.

Do I need a Will?

Everyone, regardless of the size of his or her estate, needs to do some sort of estate planning. Whether this be a Will or a Trust, guidance to your loved one's can alleviate a lot of the stress and hurt that comes when a someone loses a loved one.

I don't own anything, do I need a Will?

Many people think that because they don't have a "large estate" they don't need to have an estate plan. However, many people fail to consider that their vehicles, bank accounts, life insurance, home, and personal property all have a  monetary and sometimes sentimental value that a Will helps provide guidance for when dividing. By making a Will, an individual can specify who gets what. Also, often times, people pass away not realizes the value of their "garbage".

What happens if I don't make a Will?

If you don't make a Will (or have a Trust), you are considered to have died intestate and your property will be transferred according to Texas Law. In other words, if you do not make yourself a Will, the State of Texas has a default Will for you.

Can I change my Will?

Yes. You can change your Will as many times as you need to. It is often a good idea to review your Will every few years to make sure it still reflects your wishes. It is also important to change your Will if you have recently become married, widowed, divorced, or a beneficiary or the named executor or executrix has passed away.

Wills 101

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