If you are among the 68 percent of Americans who, according to a survey conducted by Caring.com in 2020, don’t have a Will or other estate planning document, you should know what will happen to your assets and property when you die. While they will still be distributed to family members, it will be according to state law, not according to your wishes.
Intestate Laws in Texas and Arkansas
In legal terms, “intestate” means not having a Will. Laws of intestate succession in both Texas and Arkansas dictate how the assets of a deceased person without a Will are distributed upon his death. In general, assets will pass to the closest living relatives, regardless of the personal relationship you may have had with that person in life. The laws allow for a range of possibilities and become quite complicated if there are no close relatives. Distribution of an estate for which there is no Will can take many years to finalize, especially if you do not leave behind a spouse, children, or parents, or if there are children from previous marriages. If there are no surviving relatives at all, the estate will pass to the state. There are no provisions under state law for friends or charitable organizations to inherit from your estate if you don’t have a Will.
What a Will Can and Cannot Do
Clearly, creating even a simple Will in which you name who should inherit which of your assets will save your family and friends a great deal of trouble after you die. However, your assets will still have to go through Probate, and surviving family members could still contest your Will and cause problems for other heirs. Working with an Estate Planning Attorney to write your Will can provide some protection and peace of mind, but there are limits to what a Will can accomplish.
How Ross & Shoalmire LLP Can Help
Depending on the value of your estate and the complexity of your wishes, we may be able to accomplish all of your goals with a Last Will and Testament. However, there are other tools available, such as Trusts and Powers of Attorneys, that can do much more than a Will. Once we know more about your wishes, we can guide you through ways to best protect your assets and provide for your family. Fill out our contact form to learn more about our Estate Planning and Asset Protection services.