A popular saying among estate planners is “to fail to plan is to plan to fail.” Take, for example, the story of James, a responsible family man and gun owner, who always carried a gun to protect himself and his loved ones. James also spent thousands of dollars every year on retirement plans, an emergency fund and all manner of insurance—just to be prepared.
What James did not prepare was a Will. He did not think he needed one because he wanted everything to go to his wife and kids. Now that James has passed away, his failure to plan is costing his family thousands of dollars in legal fees, years stuck in probate court and the forfeiture of his grandfather’s gun collection, a family heirloom.
Do You Need a Will?
If You Do Not Have One, Here Are Three Consequences You Haven’t Planned For:
1. If you don’t want the government to control what happens to your property after your death, you need a Will. Without your own estate plan in place, Texas will impose its “default Will” on your assets, often with an outcome you would not expect or desire. Without a Will, you are giving up your given right to control your property.
2. If you want to ensure your loved ones are provided for, you need a Will. Depending on your family situation, estate planning can be crucial to your loved ones. For example, if you are married with minor kids or have kids from a previous marriage, having a Will can make all the difference in what, or how much your survivors receive from your estate, whether your estate is large or very modest.
3. If you want your family to avoid spending thousands of dollars just to settle your affairs, you need a Will. Lawyers who pester you about preparing a Will are actually looking out for you. When there is no Will, a “dependent” probate can drag on for many months, possibly years, and generate enormous legal fees. And your family won’t just be paying the lawyer they choose. In Texas, when there is no Will, the court will automatically appoint a second attorney to determine your heirs, with your estate footing the bill!
Why Gun Owners, Especially, Need a Will
What many firearm owners aren’t aware of are the special challenges your loved ones could face after you are gone. While the probate process is straightforward for most assets, passing your firearms on to another person can create serious liabilities.
A Will that is not tailored for firearms may create problems for your Executor, Trustees and even Beneficiaries in the form of stiff fines, civil lawsuits, criminal charges and even prison time—all for simply carrying out your wishes. Failing to plan also puts your firearms at risk of being seized and destroyed. This could be especially true for persons who own heirloom firearms that they would like to keep in the family and pass down to their children, a Will that fails to address firearms issues can put both your loved ones and your property at risk.
Don’t make your legacy a liability.
With careful planning and the inclusion of key provisions in your Will, you can rest assured that both your loved ones and your property will remain protected after you are gone. When meeting with your legal professional, be sure to discuss your status as a firearms owner and request that the appointments and gifts made in your Will comply with all federal, state and local laws affecting the transfer of firearms.
This article brought to you by Jaclyn Patton, an independent licensed Texas attorney.
For more information about this article or estate planning, contact:
The Law Office of Jaclyn D. Patton
639 Heights Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77007
Telephone: (713) 730-9446
Facsimile: (713) 583-4180
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