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How do I make sure my children inherit from me?

Like many single or divorced fathers, you want to pass along an inheritance to your children after your death. There are many options available to make this happen. But as you make your plans, you should watch out for possible pitfalls that might cause your assets to go to someone else like an ex-spouse. 

Generally, making a good estate plan involves filling out the right paperwork that will direct your property to whoever you designate as your heirs. CNBC provides some tips that may help you out. 

Writing a will

If you die without having written a will, you will die intestate, meaning that Texas courts will decide how to disperse your assets. Your children might end up going to court to retrieve what they can from your estate, which can be a messy and emotionally stressful affair. Writing a will may help avoid this outcome. You may use a will to state specifically what you want your children to inherit from you. 

Designating your children as beneficiaries

You can also provide for your children by naming them as beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and retirement accounts. In the event of your incapacitation or death, your accounts will pay out to your children. Take care, though, that you have not already named someone like an ex-spouse on your insurance. Be sure to update your beneficiary designations following a divorce. Even if you name your children as beneficiaries of your insurance policy in your will, whoever you name on your policy as a beneficiary will almost certainly trump what you have stated in your will. 

When you marry a second time

You might remarry after a divorce, or you may marry for the first time following the birth of your children. If so, take care to protect the inheritance of your children as your new marriage may complicate matters. For instance, if you own a home in a joint tenancy arrangement with a right of survivorship and you die, your new spouse will get the house, not your children. 

Similarly, depending on how you name your new spouse as a beneficiary to your accounts, it is possible your spouse will receive all the assets contained in them, leaving your children with nothing. You might explore alternatives like setting up as a trust that will pay out only to your children upon your death. 

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