Texas Estate Planning Law: The Basics

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Estate planning law is a very broad area that includes wills trusts, probate and more. To find out how estate planning works in Texas, we interviewed R. David Weaver, a Texas attorney with over 25 years experience whose practice offers a wide range of legal services including estate planning and probate. Here’s what he told us:

What is estate planning?

The concept of estate plans and estate planning as a discipline is very broad in the sense that it can encompass everything from the making of a simple Will to a complex set of documents that are designed to shelter assets. It’s a very comprehensive concept in the sense that it’s all directed toward an end-of-life continuation of the ownership and management and maintenance of property.

Does everyone need an estate plan?

Most people think of estate plans in much larger terms than what they actually are. My definition of an estate plan is to make plans for the disposition of one’s estate and one’s money and property at the end of one’s life. So, within that context, I would say that everyone needs an estate plan. Everybody should have a plan for how the ownership and maintenance and management of their property are going to continue after they die.

What happens if someone doesn’t have a Texas estate plan?

The Texas legislature has developed a plan under the statutes of intestate succession. That’s where a person dies without a Will and without any other provision for the continued ownership and maintenance and management of property after the death. The problem with that is, while it does provide for the transfer of ownership of this property to the individual’s heirs-at-law, it’s expensive to administer and is not always consistent with the decedent’s wishes.

The whole idea of preparing an estate plan = of planning for the continuation of the ownership and maintenance and management of property after one’s death – is to streamline and avoid unnecessary costs and create an orderly transfer of control of the property to whomever the decedent chooses to have that control, management and ownership.

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