Articles Posted in Estate Plan

2.25.20Sometimes, despite best intentions and best efforts, an estate plan leaves unintended problems for heirs, trustees and others to solve. For example, a trust may have become outdated because of changes in tax laws, the birth or death of family members, or special circumstances like an heir’s disability.

When an issue arises, you need to seek the assistance of a qualified and experienced Houston estate planning attorney, who knows to fix the problems or find the strategy moving forward.

For example, an irrevocable trust can’t be revoked. However, in some circumstances it can be modified. The trust may have been drafted to allow its trustees and beneficiaries the authority to make certain changes in specific circumstances, like a change in the tax law.

2.17.20A will and a trust are separate legal documents that typically share a common goal of facilitating a unified estate plan. While these two items ideally work in tandem, since they are separate documents, they sometimes run in conflict with one another–either accidentally or intentionally.

A revocable trust, commonly called a living trust, is created during the lifetime of the grantor. This type of trust can be changed at any time, while the grantor is still alive. Because revocable trusts become operative before the will takes effect at death, the trust takes priority over the will, if there is any discrepancy between the two when it comes to assets titled in the name of the trust or that designate the trust as the beneficiary (e.g., life insurance).

A recent Investopedia article asks “What Happens When a Will and a Revocable Trust Conflict?” The article explains that a trust is a separate entity from an individual. When the grantor or creator of a revocable trust dies, the assets in the trust are not part of the decedent grantor's probate process.

1.17.20“Five of the most common mistakes are easy to avoid with the right information and support, as well as a little creativity.”

Because estate planning has plenty of legal jargon, it can make some people think twice about planning their estates, especially people who believe that they have too little property to bother with this important task.

Comstock’s Magazine’s recent article entitled “Five Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Estate” warns that without planning, even small estates under a certain dollar amount (which can pass without probate, according the probate laws in some states) may cause headaches for heirs and family members. Here are some big mistakes you can avoid with the help of an experienced Houston estate planning attorney:

1.9.20“Running and owning a business is just like raising a child: Both are investments in the future, and both require a lot of time, resources and effort to raise successfully. One can argue that you would treat your business like you'd treat a child; you'd want it to succeed even after you've passed on or retired.”

When people think about estate planning, many just think about their personal property and their children’s future. If you have a successful business, you may want to think about having it continue after you retire or pass away.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “Why Business Owners Should Think About Estate Planning Sooner Than Later” says that many business owners believe that estate planning and getting their affairs in order happens when they’re older. While that’s true for the most part, it’s only because that’s the stage of life when many people begin pondering their mortality and worrying about what will happen next or what will happen when they're gone. The day-to-day concerns and running of a business is also more than enough to worry about, let alone adding one's mortality to the worry list at the earlier stages in your life.

10.31.19At last, you’ve completed your estate documents, including retitling assets and checking beneficiary designations. The only question left is, where should they be stored? The answer is not that simple.

Do you know where your estate plan documents are? Many people ask their estate planning attorneys to hold onto their originals. They feel like this is the best way to prevent the plans from being misplaced, and curious family members won’t be able to see their contents.

Forbes’ recent article, “Keeping Your Estate Planning Documents Safe,” explains that because of the expense of storage and the move to paperless offices, some estate planning attorneys are now having their clients hold the original documents.

3.15.19These may be common mistakes, but they are too important to dismiss and delay.

Every year, local television news crews show up at local post offices to see the lines of folks waiting to get their tax returns postmarked on April 15—even when so many of us are using online tax services. We just tend to delay taking care of tasks that are not a lot of fun. However, according to Motley Fool, there are “3 Money Moves You Can't Afford to Put Off.”

An emergency fund. We're supposed to have at least three months' worth of living expenses in savings for emergencies, but 40% of Americans don't have the money to cover even a $400 unplanned expense. That means they're not even close to where they should be with their savings target. Without an emergency fund, you risk incurring costly debt if your paycheck disappears or you experience a surprise bill your regular earnings can't cover.

1.29.19Live long enough, and you learn that life can change in a heartbeat. Young adults don’t always know this, but they need to have an estate plan as much as older people.

Whether you are a Baby Boomer or a Millennial, you need to have an estate plan. With the help of a good estate planning attorney, someone in their 20s and 30s can get their estate plan done easily enough. Even if they think they’re immortal, says Wealth Advisor in, “Estate Planning Isn’t Only for the Old and Wealthy,” young adults need estate plans.

First, people can draft a will to provide directions regarding what happens to their assets, such as who will inherit both financial and personal items. Virtual assets like social media accounts should also be included. You should make a list of usernames and passwords for all your accounts and be sure that a trusted relative or friend has access.

1.24.19Among the top three reasons for an estate plan are to make sure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, helping your loved ones from having to pay more taxes than necessary and if possible, avoiding having your estate go through probate.

When there are minor children or family members with special needs, it’s critical to have an estate plan, advises the Capital Press in the article, “Ag Finance: Why you need to do estate planning.”

While it’s likely that most adult children can work things out, even if it’s costly and time-consuming in probate, minor young children need protection. Wills are frequently written, so the estate goes to the child when he or she reaches age 18. However, few teens can manage big property at that age. A trust can help, by directing that the property will be held for the child by a trustee or executor until a set age, like 25 or 30.

12.20.18Remember that estate planning is not just for the wealthy, and now that the federal exemption is so high, not just for the billionaires either. Estate planning is also much more than a will.

Your estate plan has a lot of work to do for you, both while you are alive and for your family when you have passed. A good article that explains it all comes from Investopedia, “How to Get Your Estate Plan on Track.” There are three key objectives that your estate plan needs to do:

  • End-of-life health care decisions are documented in a legally binding document;

Pen-calendar-to-do-checklistTo make sure that your wishes are carried out, you’ll have to do your homework. Make sure that you cover these most important documents.

The last thing you want to do, is leave a bureaucratic mess for your loved ones when you die. Not only will it cause the family stress during a difficult time, it could change how your family thinks of you. That should be more than enough reason to get this done in advance!

US News & World Report’s recent article, “12 Documents to Prepare Now for Your Heirs,” says that when people don't have their paperwork ready, it can be a huge headache for the family. A family can be left with all kinds of paperwork to sort out while dealing with grief. Even worse, heirs may forfeit life insurance proceeds and tax deductions or overlook accounts they don't know exist. That's why it's critical to have important documents ready for loved ones. Here are the documents you should start preparing right away:

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