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What Elderly People Need to Consider When Creating or Updating a Will

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tarrant-county-estate-planning-attorney.jpgA last will and testament is one of the foundational elements of a comprehensive estate plan. A person’s will details decisions about how the property they own should be passed to their heirs after their death. Seniors who are entering their twilight years will often be looking to make plans for how to address different assets they own, distribute property to their loved ones, and ensure that their wishes will be followed after their death. When creating a will or making changes to a will that had previously been created, a person will need to make sure to understand the legal issues that they may need to address.

Key Considerations in a Last Will and Testament

It is important to understand how different types of property will be considered during the probate and estate administration process. Seniors will need to take a complete inventory of their assets and debts before they will be able to make decisions about how the distribution of their property will be handled. Some different types of assets to consider include:

  • Jointly-owned property - Assets that are jointly owned with a spouse or another party (such as a home that is co-owned by a person’s child) will not be distributed to a person’s heirs following their death. Instead, the co-owner will assume full ownership of these assets. However, it may still be a good idea to include these assets in a will, which will address situations where a co-owner dies prior to or at the same time as the testator.

  • Assets with beneficiary designations - Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and payable-on-death accounts will be distributed directly to named beneficiaries following a person’s death, so it will not be necessary to address these assets in a will.

  • Business assets - A person who has an ownership interest in a family business may wish to ensure that a loved one will assume ownership of the business following their death. While business assets may be addressed in a will, it is often preferable to create a business succession plan through a partnership agreement or other business contracts. This will allow for a smoother and easier transition to new ownership of the business following the death of an owner or partner.

  • Property meant to provide for loved ones with special needs - If a person wishes to give certain assets to a family member or other loved one who has a disability or other special needs, they should be aware that doing so could create financial difficulties for the beneficiary. Giving assets to a person directly may increase their financial resources, making them ineligible for certain public benefits. Instead of leaving assets to a person in a will, a special needs trust may be created that will ensure that these assets will be used in a way that does not affect the benefits a person can receive.

In addition to addressing different types of assets, a person will want to make sure the terms of their last will and testament will be carried out by someone they trust. Naming the right executor will ensure that a family member or friend will properly distribute their assets to their loved ones according to their instructions. 

Contact Our Fort Worth Wills Lawyer

If you need to make sure your wishes will be followed after your death, or if you are looking to help an elderly family member put a will in place, Gonzalez Law, PLLC can provide the legal help you need. We will advise you of your options as you create or update your will, and we can also help you determine what other tools may be available to meet your needs. Contact our Tarrant County estate planning attorney at 817-349-7730 to set up a free consultation today.

Sources:

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/09/26/important-things-to-consider-when-preparing-your-will

https://www.aarp.org/money/estate-planning/info-09-2010/ten_things_you_should_know_about_writing_a_will.html

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