In the past, when someone was preparing their estate documents they usually left everything to family members who have been close to them. A new trend seems to be starting with estate planning that might have some people rethinking that common distribution of assets. The new trend is that more and more people are leaving their estate, or part of their estate, to charitable organizations. For residents in Texas, deciding to do this means needing to ensure that the estate planning documents convey that desire very clearly to avoid problems later.
There are various reasons why a person might decide to leave assets to a charitable organization. While this might sometimes be because they just don't want family to get their assets because they are estranged, that isn't very common. What is becoming more common is people leaving their assets to a charitable organization that has significant meaning to them. A cancer survivor or someone touched by cancer in some way might decide to leave a portion of their estate to a cancer charity that helped them out.
In some cases, the person might decide that they don't want any of their relatives to feel as though they are entitled to anything, so they decide to use an alternative estate plan that doesn't leave the relatives the entire estate. This might mean that the relatives get a portion of the estate or nothing at all.
No matter what the reason for the non-traditional will, it is important to ensure that your wishes are conveyed in a legal manner. This will help to avoid your estate being classified as intestate, which means that your belongings would be distributed based on a formula used by Texas. In that case, your wishes for charitable donations through your estate wouldn't be followed.
Source: The New York Times, "In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First" Caitlin Kelly, May. 02, 2014