Updating a will should be something that we all investigate once we have created a choice for ourselves. First and foremost, however, it is necessary to have a will that needs to be updated at all. Surprisingly, most people do not have a choice. You may even count yourself among those over the age of 18 but do not have a will. For many reasons, this is a wrong decision both for yourself and for your family. You are doing yourself and those around you a great disservice by not having a valid will. I want to discuss with you how much it should cost to update your intention and some of the finer points of estate planning in Texas.
Just like anything else, you need to pay a great deal of attention to the details of your will. As a rule of thumb, the more detailed and vital the document is, the more critical it is for you to pay attention to details. When we discuss your child’s Christmas letter to Santa Claus, it is not all that important for the document to be well written or clear. Santa will get the picture when it comes to what your child wants under the Christmas tree. However, it is not so clear for a will. The more concise, clear, and well-written a choice is, the better chance you are of having a valid document that your executor can defend in probate court. The flip side to this situation is that he may run into a circumstance where your executor, spouse, children, and family members have some difficulty when it comes to enforcing a document after a challenge from a distant relative or another person.
We want to accomplish this by drafting a will to ensure that your wishes are followed clearly after your passing. Ultimately, the persons who stand to benefit the most from having a well-constructed choice are your family members in those people or entities who stand to receive property from your estate after your passing. Some of the most frustrating and downright sad estate planning events involve persons or entities who are inadvertently disinherited due to problems in your will. Imagine a circumstance where your niece, nephew, or next-door neighbor was supposed to inherit the lion’s share of your estate after your passing, but because of some issue in your will, that person was left out. That is unjust both to you and to the person who was disinherited inadvertently. For that reason, you want to ensure that the will you create reflects not only your wishes but is clear and drafted by the laws of Texas.
The cost of updating your will?
Performing any legal process, such as updating your will, is like doing anything else in the marketplace. The cost can vary widely in terms of performing this action. We should know that depending upon your budget, there almost certainly is an attorney out there who can help you update your will or even draft a choice, for that matter. You need to pay attention to not only any upfront costs of representation but also any secondary charges that you may incur as a result of having an attorney in dispute.
The best way to clear up this kind of misconception or question is to be direct with the attorney you are meeting with. As an old friend of mine once said: to be unclear is to be unkind. This means that you should be very clear with your attorney about your understanding of the costs. You should seek out a contract with the attorney even before you are ready to consider hiring them, period; read the agreement thoroughly to understand what you are signing up for if you do decide to seek representation through that person. There is nothing wrong or complicated about hiring an experienced estate planning attorney to help you update your will. However, the process can be made much clearer if you and the attorney are honest and upfront about your expectations and the process.
I can tell you that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan pride ourselves on our commitment to transparency when it comes to the nature of our representation of you as a client, as well as the costs associated with the model. We aim to prevent any surprises regarding the spirit, scope, or cost of representing you as a client. For this reason, we have our attorneys walk with potential clients through the range of engagement. Still, we also have experienced persons on our team to help clients understand contracts in financing options and answer questions regarding both subjects. This area is not directly tied to the drafting of your will or updating of your choice but is nonetheless crucial to your positive experience as a client of ours.
In terms of the specific representation costs, updating a will can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. One of the factors that will influence the cost of representation would be the attorney you plan on hiring. Likely, you will find that the more experienced the attorney you plan on hiring, the likelihood increases they will be more expensive than less experienced attorneys. This should not come as a huge surprise and is a factor that plays a part in costs associated with representing clients across the legal world and in other areas of our world such as medicine, business, and places such as that.
Additionally, the costs of your will being updated could depend on the specific items in your choice that need to be changed. For example, if you have a will that was initially drafted with errors and needed to be completely overhauled, the attorney will likely have to spend more time doing their job. The more time an attorney spends performing some action on your case, the more expensive your case becomes. A simple will that needs to be updated for the birth of a child or the death of a relative or beneficiary would likely not be as expensive.
One factor that should not influence the cost of updating your will, but likely choice, is the overhead costs of the attorney who will be performing the work for you. Typically, overhead costs involve factors like the office location of the attorney as well as the cost of factors that do not directly impact the work done by the lawyer. Consider that your attorney could do the same job for you with a posh office near downtown or a smaller simple office in the suburbs. Hiring an attorney based on their zip code does not make much sense, absent other factors. However, an attorney often will charge more money to work on your case because they need to pay for rent or other controllable factors that do not benefit you directly as a client. While this may not be a primary area for you to look at when it comes to hiring an attorney, it should be something you consider, given its possible importance to the overall cost of your case.
A durable power of attorney for financial purposes
One of the areas of your life that you are probably most proficient and confident in your abilities is finances. If you are reading this blog post, then the odds are good that you are capable of financial planning and taking care of matters related to this subject. Otherwise, you likely would not be spending a great deal of time reading a blog post about the cost of updating your will. This shows that you are a planner and deliver a great deal of care and thought about matters related to your family. If you are in a position to take care of your financial matters, likely, this subject will not be one that you need to be overly concerned about.
However, all of us face the possibility of suffering some degree of health issues in our lives. If nothing else, this past year has shown us that there always is a chance that something completely out of the blue could happen to us from a health perspective that may impact our ability to provide for our family and plan for our finances both now and in the future. I can tell you from experience that one of the most significant concerns a person can have when it comes to their finances is being worried about ending up in the hospital for otherwise incapable of attending to the day-to-day matters regarding your financial life. Money is the last thing you want to worry about when you are sick or otherwise unable to listen to your economic issues.
A durable power of attorney for finances can protect you, your property, and those around you. Nobody wants to be in a position where they’re not capable of caring for their money. However, a durable power of attorney for finances allows you to choose a person to act as your agent. In this scenario, you would serve as the principal, and the person selected to act as your durable power of attorney would be your agent. If you have an impairment that disables or hinders you, then this durable power of attorney has the legal right to act in your place and manage your property and assets. If something were to happen to you where you are incapable of caring for your support and property, then a court would need to appoint a conservator to fulfill this obligation. However, you can step in and meet this obligation for yourself rather than relying upon a probate court judge.
The trouble with relying upon a court to fulfill this obligation for you is that the court can ultimately select any person they wish as your conservator. The sheer amount of work that goes into planning and caring for your property can be vast. Again, the more work that goes into something, the higher the cost will also be increased. A durable power of attorney allows you to select a person that can manage your property without having to go through the process of being court-appointed. This will save time and money while providing you with Peace of Mind. It is much more preferable for you to select this person on your own rather than to sit helplessly by as a court does so for you.
A durable power of attorney is not necessarily something that would be included in a will. However, this is a subject that an experienced estate planning attorney can assist you with, and it would make sense to address the topic while you are updating or drafting a will. Why not see to it that your estate is cared for if a tragedy or other active God occurs in your life.
A living trust or special needs trust
A subject that we do not frequently discuss here on this blog is that of trust. In my experience, for the most part, trust is not necessarily something that most of us need to concern ourselves with, given the oversight and tedious nature of maintaining trust. A trust can be a pain for most of us to deal with, and the nature of preserving trust is outstripped by any benefit you would get from creating a trust. However, if you find yourself with a moderately large estate, then you may be in a position to make a living trust that could stand to benefit you and your family.
As long as you are living, a revocable trust is entirely within your control. This is important because you will be able to change the terms of the faith as many times as you would like until you either pass away, or a court determines that you are incapable of performing this type of action. For example, you can add a property to the trustor take property out of the trust anytime he wants. If the trust accumulates any income, such as from an investment, the trust income will be taxable to you as an individual.
If you become sick or need to stay in the hospital for some time, the person that you have designated as a successor trustee can take over the trust and manage your property for your benefit. Given the pie nature of costs associated with long-term care, this can significantly benefit you. Next, if you sadly pass away, then the property in the living trust does not have to go through probate. If you have had the experience of going through probate either for a relative or other person in your life, then you know the sometimes-extreme costs in terms of money and time that probate court involves. Furthermore, if the probate process becomes necessary for your estate after you pass away, a revocable trust remains private in almost all cases. It does not go through the administration process. If you have a sensitive matter that you would prefer to remain private within your family and not go through probate, this would seem ideal for you and your family.
Finally, if you have a child with special needs, a special needs trust may be something right up your alley. A special needs trust will help provide care and oversight for your child by giving people a position to help them with directions and financial resources. In many cases, your child may even qualify to receive benefits from the state of Texas, and a special needs trust can help to facilitate the receipt and allocation of those benefits in a way that allows your child to a great degree.
Whatever your specific circumstances are about estate planning matters, it is wise for you to consider speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney if you have questions. The unfortunate reality is that you do not know when your time will come to an end. Why not have your questions answered and then set into motion a process that will help you find solutions to any issues you may have?
Questions about the material in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed probate law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas probate law as well as about how an estate planning or probate-related matter may impact your family’s circumstances.