Articles Posted in Family

Many young people do not think much about estate planning. But having children makes estate planning an important consideration for any family. Young families with children should consider taking certain steps when going through Houston estate planning.

Basic Estate Planning Needs for Young Families

First, families should sit down with an attorney to write a will. Writing a will ensures that a parent decides who property and assets will go to in the event of the parent’s death. Writing a will is particularly important for parents because they need to name a guardian for their children. The guardian is the person who would care for the child or children if both parents were unable to care for their children. In the absence of a named guardian in a will, a court would generally choose a guardian for the children. Having a named guardian ensures that that person is appointed as guardian.

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.

1.26.20Some people think once the children are all grown up, with spouses and children of their own, that they don’t need life insurance. However, it can play a valuable role in protecting the family and transferring wealth.

With estate tax exclusions at levels that make them a non-issue for most Americans, the practice of purchasing second-to-die life insurance policies to prepare for estate tax costs has faded.

However, IRAs, 401(k)s, and other accounts are still 100% taxable to the individuals, spouses and their children. The stretch IRA options still exist, but they may go away, as Congress may limit stretch IRAs to a maximum of 10 years.

11.14.19The succession plan works for your business in the same way an estate plan works for your personal life. It protects the business, outlining your wishes and plans for it to continue, or sets up a means of passing it to the next owners, whether they are family members or buyers.

Business owners who plan to use the proceeds from the sale of the business to fund their retirement have the right idea. However, with only 25% of private business owners actually having a succession plan in place, those retirement plans may not work the way they thought. Without a plan in place, the owners, their businesses and their families are at risk.

The Houston Business Journal’s recent article, “Three tips to employing establishing a strong succession plan,” takes up this matter for discussion.

5.1.19Balancing careers, children, college funds and aging parents present the same-old scenario, but this time to a new generation with a different value system.

Members of Generation X, who straddle a fairly wide age range, from late 30s to early 50s, are feeling the crunch of being responsible for their children and their parent’s needs. How will they ever get a handle on their savings for their own retirement?

U.S. News & World Report reminds us in its article “Essential Strategies for Generation X” that with the right strategies, Gen Xers can find a money-life balance.

4.3.19It seems like families need to spend more time discussing estate plans and their finances, especially if they are blended families, to prevent major disruptions.

For the second consecutive year, family conflict was named as the biggest treat to estate planning by estate planning and elder law attorneys and other professionals attending this year’s annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning.

The survey, conducted by TD Wealth, found that nearly half (46%) of respondents said that family conflict was the biggest threat to estate planning in 2019, followed by market volatility (24%) and tax reform (14%).

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;

10.29.18Your legacy is far richer than your assets and possessions. Planning to pass on a legacy to your family becomes more rewarding, when it includes non-tangibles, like values and treasured family stories.

Who wants to think about death, dying and bank accounts? Not too many people do. That’s why so many of us tend to put off creating or updating our wills. However, taking a different approach, breaking up the task into four key components, and including more than the assets you’ve accumulated over a lifetime can make planning your personal legacy rewarding. The Street’s recent article, “Planning Your Legacy: More Than Just Finances,” explains how this works.

Pillar 1: Values and Life Lessons.  People can forget to provide for some of the most valuable gifts that can be passed on to the next generation of family members, which are experiences and memories. Your years of life encounters have given you a wealth of life lessons and knowledge you can pass on to your heirs. Document your memories, relationships, and any important lessons you want to preserve.

10.19.18The roles are reversed when parents age. You can’t count on them to take the lead in having discussions about money, health, aging and other concerns that come in the later years.

When you were a kid, your parents were in charge. Now your parents are older, and you must be the adult in the room. Embracing that role, with thoughtfulness, will make it easier for you and your parents as you address the issues that come with aging. As recommended in the article “How to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Aging Parents” from Next Avenue, having these conversations will help you all avoid some of the uncertainty and stress in the future.

Here are the conversations you need to have:

Contact Information