Reed: The when and what of estate planning

Sandra W. Reed
Special to the Reporter
Sandra Reed

When is the time for estate planning?

At least every five years or so, individuals and families should revisit the actions needed to be prepared for death of themselves or a family member.

In addition, this review should be done any time one of these occurs: (1) the individual or a family member has a life threatening illness; (2) the individual or a family member has had a serious accident; (3) the individual or family has minor children who will need to be provided for in the event of death of the mother, father, guardian or primary caregiver; (4) the individual or a family member has a disability for which they are currently or may in the future need to apply for state or federal benefits; (5) major conflicts or other issues between family members have arisen; and (6) the purchase of real estate outside of Texas; and (7) any other circumstance suggesting the need for a change in plans.

What information is necessary to prepare or revise an estate plan?

The attorney assisting an individual or family in creating or revising an estate plan will need the following information: (1) full names of individual and family members, including children of prior marriages, if any; (2) age and marital status of each; (3) listing of all assets; (4) full names and contact information of those who will be named to serve in fiduciary capacities, (e.g., executor/trix of wills, agents for powers of attorney, financial and medical, guardians, if they become necessary, and trustee of any trust being established); (5) family issues that might lead to a will contest; and the relationship with desired beneficiaries other than family members, including both individuals and charities.

What should the individual or family tell the attorney assisting in estate planning?

It is essential to let the attorney assisting in estate planning know the individual or families’ wishes for disposition of property at death. Divulging the composition of assets and their value is also crucial. Revealing special concerns, such as potential contests to the planning documents, children born out of wedlock, non-citizenship status of family members or potential beneficiaries or any other unusual situation which might impact the plan is also important.

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning.  She lives on beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at (254) 797-0211; (817) 946-02809 or at