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Once best known for her chart-topping hits, Britney Spears is now in the limelight for a much more somber reason.

For over a decade, Ms. Spears has been under a conservatorship following a decline in her mental health. That conservatorship has recently gained attention and notoriety as Ms. Spears and those around her allege that the arrangement has been abusive. The story of her conservatorship raises an alarming question: If a conservatorship could happen to a woman as powerful as Britney Spears, could it happen to you, too?

Fortunately, there are well-established ways to avoid a court-ordered conservatorship or guardianship in the event of incapacitation. Specifically, trusts and estates lawyers can help build a legal shield in the form of a revocable living trust.

“I leave everything I own to my grandson.”

The above statement seems to leave no room for confusion. Whomever wrote it seemingly wished to leave his belongings to his grandchild, and no one else. But one court thought differently earlier this year. The case underscores the importance of having a will professionally drafted to ensure your final wishes will be respected.

Holographic Wills Can Have Large Consequences

More and more Texas couples are choosing to cohabitate without getting married. For older couples, this arrangement is often intended to protect assets for their children. Couples should be aware that cohabitation can affect estate planning in unexpected ways, however. With the right trusts and estate planning lawyer, cohabitating couples can navigate these pitfalls with ease.

The Major Difference in Inheritance

A key difference between a cohabitating and married couple in terms of estate planning is the effect of one partner’s death on inheritance. In the case of a married couple, a surviving spouse automatically maintains an interest in her deceased spouse’s estate, even if the decedent did not leave a will. In the case of an unmarried, cohabitating couple, however, a surviving partner lacks any default legal interest in their deceased partner’s estate. In other words, the surviving partner will not inherit any part of the estate unless a will is in place designating the survivor as a beneficiary.

Congratulations on your new arrival! When planning for a first child, there are a few tasks that cannot be put off. One of these tasks that is often overlooked is estate planning. In the event of the unthinkable, a well-thought-out plan for your assets can help ensure that your children will always be cared for.

An effective estate plan will answer a variety of important questions. At a minimum, a properly structured plan will address the distribution of assets and care of children in the event that neither parent is alive. Experienced Houston estate planning attorneys address these issues in careful detail, working with families to identify their unique needs and create tailored solutions.

Flexibility in Estate Planning for Many Needs

Selecting the right legal instrument for a charitable donation can help ensure that your good deed goes unpunished.

One effective but lesser-known instrument for charitable donations is the charitable lead trust (CLT). Donors can set up this type of trust in Houston to provide a stream of income to a particular charity for a pre-specified term, after which the property will revert to selected members of the donor’s family.

Charitable Giving Options

Eco-friendly homes are those that are built using environmentally conscious materials and appliances. In recent years, eco-friendly building in Texas has shifted from one-off construction to budding communities of sleek, sustainable housing.

Eco-friendly property owners all have one thing in common: Each of them has taken the initiative to plan for their future—as well as that of the environment. The next natural step for any eco-friendly property owner is effective estate planning.

Like any property owner, eco-friendly property owners should always have a will in place to establish how their assets will be distributed and under what conditions. Leaving a sustainable legacy is, after all, a great accomplishment to be proud of. Make sure your estate plan reflects your sustainable living ideas.

The recent increase in unexpected deaths as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the issue of estate planning to the front of many people’s minds. In planning for the end of their life, asset holders may be confused by the various tools that may be used to divide their estate. Wills and trusts are both estate planning instruments that are used to protect assets and ensure that they are transferred to heirs as a benefactor desires. Wills and trusts are different from one another. Depending on the circumstances and desires of a benefactor, a will or a trust, or both may be appropriate tools for planning their estate.

Last Will and Testament Basics

Wills are the most common and widely understood methods for distributing an estate upon a family member’s death. A will is a written document that expresses the desires of a deceased person. A will only becomes active upon the death of its creator. Wills may include directives about funeral plans or other end-of-life issues besides property division. If a deceased person has minor children in their sole custody, a will can be used to assign guardianship of the children to another party. Absent a guardianship provision in a will, state courts will be responsible for choosing the legal guardian(s) of a deceased person. If a deceased person does not have a will, their minor children are at risk of being placed in the care of someone who they would not wish to assume legal guardianship of the children.

Planning Ahead Reduces Family Conflict

Planning for the division of assets and other desires upon someone’s death can be an uncomfortable and difficult process. Often, parents or other benefactors want to assume that their heirs and beneficiaries will understand their end-of-life wishes and cooperate in dividing their assets and making funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. An overly simple or ambiguous will (or the lack of a will entirely) can sometimes lead to division and conflict between family members at the most sensitive time of their lives.

A recent industry publication outlines some tips and solutions to prevent such discord after the death of a loved one. According to the report, the most important piece of advice is to start the estate planning process sooner rather than later. Although it can be tricky for an heir to bring up estate planning issues with a parent, it is important to remember that an effective and clear estate plan can give everyone involved peace of mind that the wishes of the parent will be honored upon their death, while limiting conflict among the heirs. Without a clearly outlined estate plan, two or more heirs may disagree in good faith about the wishes of their deceased loved one, and the disagreement can lead to divisions that certainly would not have been desired by the loved one in the first place.

Estate planning is a critical collection of documents that protects one’s assets and property for future generations. An “estate” is the collection of these documents, and it specifies who will protect ones’ wishes and act on them when the time comes. While estate planning is a centuries-old tradition that many people have engaged in, a shift is occurring that is changing the way many people choose to pass down their assets. This new trend is commonly referred to as “values-based” estate planning.

Historically, estate plans were designed to address assets, not personal, familial relationships. However, when familial relationships are on thin ice, a family’s overall wealth can suffer. According to research, many family businesses dissipate after the second generation. This fact highlights the importance of addressing estate plans with a new lens.

Texans who want to pass on their wealth effectively should consider hiring an attorney to gather materials and develop a values-based estate plan. Values-based estate planning involves evaluating the creators’ values, celebrates the life they have built, and creates a fulfilling legacy to leave behind for future generations. These documents help create an atmosphere of trust amongst heirs and help forge meaningful relationships between family members for generations to come.

Estate planning is a fairly complex topic. The laws frequently change and are not always intuitive. However, estate planning is crucial and, while the thought of starting the estate planning process may not be something anyone looks forward to, it is something everyone needs to consider. This is especially the case for LGBTQ couples, as the Houston estate planning laws applied by the courts, unfortunately, do not adequately cover most couple’s wishes when it comes to property distribution and end-of-life decision-making powers. Below are a few things LGBTQ couples should consider when assessing their estate planning needs.

Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney

Not everyone wants the same level of care if they suddenly become ill or incapacitated. However, unless you take affirmative steps to create a directive to physicians (living will) and healthcare power of attorney, courts will apply default rules when it comes to appointing someone to make decisions on your behalf.

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