Articles Posted in Estate Plan

Houston families with adopted children have to keep certain concerns in mind while estate planning. If a child is not formally and legally adopted, that child generally will not receive the same treatment in the event of a parent’s death. Inheritance and property will not usually pass on to that child in the same way that they would to a biological child. Adoptions can take a long time to become final. Until an adoption has been finalized, the child is not considered a child in the same way that a biological child is for estate purposes.

For example, a stepchild who was raised by a stepparent may be considered the same as a natural child within the family, but if the stepchild was not legally adopted by the stepparent, the child will not be treated in the same way under Texas estate law. In the event of the stepparent’s death, Texas estate law would not treat that child the same as a biological child. This means that if the stepparent died without a will, generally, the stepchild would not inherit any of the stepparent’s assets. However, there are some circumstances under Texas law in which a child can inherit from a stepparent and where there was an agreement to adopt the child.

If a parent legally adopts a child, under the Texas Estates Code, that child will be treated in the same way as a natural child. In the event of a legal adoption, generally, the child’s biological parents’ parental rights will be terminated. In some cases, that child will lose their right to inherit by default as a child from their biological parents. However, in Texas, an adopted child normally can also inherit from the child’s natural parents.

There are many reasons people may want to avoid creating or revising their Houston estate plan as they age. Some may say they do not have the time or money to sit down with an attorney. Others may think that it is unnecessary. However, often, it boils down to a desire to avoid the uncomfortable conversations that must be had when it comes to engaging in the estate planning process. Most people do not want to think about death, let alone talk about it with their loved ones. With that in mind, it makes sense they would want to avoid discussing their estate plan. So how can one approach this conversation and gently persuade their loved one to create or update an old estate plan?

Tips to start the conversation about estate planning:

  • First, it is important to show understanding and empathy. As discussed above, these are conversations no one enjoys having. One should show an understanding of why their loved one may want to avoid the topic. One way to do that is by having patience. Try not to be too overbearing or demanding. It may take more than one conversation to convince a loved one to plan for the unavoidable sooner rather than later.

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.

Contact Information