Why do I need a will?
If you don't have a will, a court decides who gets your assets.
A will is a device that lets you tell the world whom you want to get
your assets. Die without one, and the state decides who gets what,
without regard to your wishes or your heirs' needs.
intestacy laws vary considerably from state to state. In general,
though, if you die and leave a spouse and kids, your assets will be
split between your surviving mate and children. If you're single with no
children, then the state is likely to decide who among your blood
relatives will inherit your estate.
Making a will is especially
important for people with young children, because wills are the best way
to transfer guardianship of minors.
You may amend your will at
any time. In fact, it's a good idea to review it periodically and
especially when your marital status changes. At the same time, review
your beneficiary designations for your 401(k), IRA, pension and life
insurance policy since those accounts will be transferred automatically
to your named beneficiaries when you die.
A will is also useful if you have a trust.
A trust is a legal mechanism that lets you put conditions on how your
assets are distributed after you die and it often lets you minimize gift
and estate taxes. But you still need a will since most trusts deal only
with specific assets such as life insurance or a piece of property, but
not the sum total of your holdings.
Even if you have what's known
as a revocable living trust in which you can put the bulk of your
assets, you still need what's known as a pour-over will. In addition to
letting you name a guardian for your children, a pour-over will ensures
that all the assets you intended to put into the trust are put there
even if you fail to retitle some of them before your death.
assets that are not retitled in the name of the trust are considered
subject to probate. As a result, if you haven't specified in a will who
should get those assets, a court may decide to distribute them to heirs
whom you may not have chosen.
A. Jeff Kemp
Call: (281) 681-2600 | Email
A. Jeff Kemp brings more than 50 years of legal experience to the practice of family law, real estate law, personal injury law, consumer law and probate law. After he earned his LL.B. at the University of Texas at Austin, he was admitted to the bar in Texas and the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 1956. Thereafter, he served as a Lieutenant J.G. in the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1959, and serving as a legal officer in the Judge Advocate General Program. He is also a member of the prestigious Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.
Mr. Kemp is an attorney who thrives on intellectual challenge. This curiosity has earned him legal recognition among lawyers and judges in the state. Since 1973, Mr. Kemp is rated as an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated℠ by Martindale-Hubbell®—their highest rating for an attorney for ethical standards and legal ability. He is currently Of Counsel to the firm.