We all know for a fact that life is pretty unpredictable. As humans, we are not only concerned about our lives but also about the lives of our future generations. The possessions you have today won’t be yours forever. They will pass on to your children and their children and so on. That’s why, when you are reflecting on your mortality, you also need to think about your possessions. You need to ask yourself what should happen to your possessions after you’re gone.

One of the ways in which you can ensure that your possessions are used wisely after your demise is through writing a will. Dorothy K. Butler Lawrence, the owner of the Dorothy Butler Law Firm, believes that a will is one of the most important documents you will ever create. A will, she says, `ensures that all your wishes are properly respected and fulfilled in your absence. Dorothy is among America’s most exceptionally talented lawyers, evident from the fact that she is a seven times Texas Super Lawyers Rising Star. Her firm has been open for 11 years now, serving people in many legal areas, including but not limited to bankruptcy law, estate planning, business and employment law, and family and divorce law.

Dorothy’s team focuses on helping people write effective wills. She considers herself more than just a lawyer. She constantly educates people about the importance of effective wills on her Instagram, @yourtrendylawyer, and her Facebook page, @dorothybutlerlawfirm. Dorothy challenges the idea that wills are only for rich people. She believes wills are for all parents, regardless of their age, family structure, or assets. Creating a will, she says, will allow you to decide exactly how you want your assets to be divided after you pass away. She regularly helps her clients ensure that it’s not left up to the laws of Texas to determine inheritance.

Like any other topic or issue, there are many misconceptions about wills. As an educator and lawyer, Dorothy and her firm regularly attempt to clear misconceptions about wills in America. Most people assume that since their estate is “simple,” they don’t need to write any wills. Dorothy believes this is the most common misconception about wills in America today. She believes wills are for everyone. Most people, she says, typically own more than they realize, which is why they need to have some control over their assets and how they should be distributed. Apart from that, as a lawyer, she knows how extremely complicated the legal processes that are necessary to transfer ownership are. The Dorothy Butler Law Firm tries to communicate this directly to clients during consultations and on social media.

Dorothy believes that wills can be made valid in two different ways:

1. Write out the will by hand, entirely in the handwriting of the testator. If the testator then signs this document, it is considered a valid “holographic” will.
2. Create a typed will. The testator must sign the typed wills in the presence of two witnesses to be valid. These witnesses should be “disinterested” (not named in the will) and over fourteen.

As far as Texas is concerned, where Dorothy works, an individual making a Will (the “testator”) must first be over 18 or married, be of sound mind, and express his or her intent to make a will within the document itself. It is a complicated process, which is why Dorothy always encourages people to seek advice from an attorney to ensure their will is valid.

Sometimes marriage, divorce, and separation can add complications to wills. Dorothy keeps her clients informed about these complications. She makes sure that her Texan clients know that if you get married following the creation of your will in Texas, your spouse does not automatically get added to the will. That’s why she encourages her clients to keep their legal documents updated. However, a few constitutional protections are available to spouses that are not included in a previous will. For example, if someone gets divorced following the creation of their will, all bequests to the former spouse are invalidated, which means that the estate will pass as if that former spouse and the former spouse’s relatives failed to survive the testator. In Texas, there is also no such thing as legal separation in Texas. Therefore, she reminds her clients that if they separate from their partners and do not want them to inherit anything, they must alter their estate planning documents immediately to ensure their wishes are respected.

When it comes to legal issues, keeping your legal documents updated is extremely important. Dorothy and her firm encourage all of their clients to keep their documents up to date as their family changes. Important events such as the birth of a new child, a new marriage or divorce, or a child’s 18th birthday are all good times to take an inventory of estate planning documents to ensure that they still align with your goals. Typically, Dorothy recommends all her clients and everyone else, in general, to look over their documents every five years or so.

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