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Dallas attorney, Shelly B. West, a Dallas area law firm offers legal help with family law, wills, probate, divorce, paternity, alimony, child support, visitation, inheritance, incorporations, corporate defense.

Wills in Texas

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You've probably been wondering, why do I really need a will? Let's begin by describing what a will is: It is your final personal statement that includes instructions about the custody of your children, who will own your property, and who will inherit your money. Without a will, the State of Texas determines who raises your children and who inherits your property and money.

For this reason, it is important that everyone write a legal will. Most people avoid writing wills because they don't like to think about their death and the details that follow. Once you decide that you prefer to determine your children's guardian and who inherits your property and money, the process of writing a will doesn't take much of your time. The whole process usually takes a couple of meetings and less than a couple of weeks.

What follows in this text are five points you should consider while writing a will, but are not intended to provide you with legal advice.

First, if you have children, who will be their guardians?

This is important if the children are under the age of 18. In the event that both parents have died, you should name a guardian with whom your children feel comfortable, but also someone you believe has your children's best interests at heart. This person can be a relative, such as a grandparent, or a good family friend. You should also consider an alternate guardian in case the first guardian named is unable to serve.

Second, who will get your property and money?

With a will, you can give your property and your money to anyone you want. You may want to make specific bequests of individual items to certain people, such as family heirlooms, or you may want your possessions to go to a charity or foundation. Perhaps you want some money to go to your spouse and some money to go in a trust account for your children's future education. Remember to name an alternate individual or charity for your bequests. Some individuals you name may pass away also, so you should have a second choice for every bequest.

Third, what is a trust?

A trust holds your money for the benefit of the individuals you name in your will. Perhaps you want your young children to have money to go to college. You could establish a trust with some of your money for this purpose. A trustee would be named by you to oversee the account and this person would follow the instructions in your trust. Often the person named as the guardian is also appointed as the trustee.

Fourth, what are your burial instructions?

Do you want standard funeral arrangements or do you want to be cremated? Perhaps you want to donate your organs or body. If you decide to donate your organs, talk to your family and doctor now. An organ donation must be made immediately following death. The reading of your will occurs too late to be helpful in organ donation.

Finally, who will be your executor?

An executor is your personal representative that handles all the details of your will. They pay off your debts and distribute what's left according to your instructions. A spouse is generally named executor. Again, it is wise to name an alternate.

Remember, a will is the single most important document you can prepare to benefit your family and loved ones. There are specific rules that must be followed in order to make a valid will in Texas. Therefore, you should not attempt to write a will without the help of an attorney. If you would like me to help write your will or have other questions, please email me or contact my office at 214-373-9292 for an appointment. I look forward to helping you.

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