Articles Posted in Inheritance Planning

When Texans think about passing on their assets to others, many wish to keep assets in their family through their i. While they may assume this will automatically occur—and there is no need to create a will or estate plan—this is not necessarily the case. Instead, there are specific actions that individuals should take to ensure their money and property are handed down to the people they actually want to receive it. Otherwise, a probate court judge will have the final decision in who is given the deceased’s assets. Below are some tips and options for Texans who wish to better control where their assets go and ensure they are utilized responsibly.

Drafting a Will

When most people first think about estate planning, they envision drafting a will. And this is one of the most essential and basic estate planning methods, as drafting a will allows individuals to dictate how their assets will be divided after they pass away. However, in Texas, if someone does not have a will in place when they die, their estate will be divided in probate court. There, a judge will decide how the assets are split up—generally, the individual’s closest kin will receive a majority of the assets regardless of the deceased’s feelings toward them. Because of this, it is important to draft a will so Texans can leave their money to their family—or others—according to their actual wishes.

Creating a Trust

Other individuals may hope to keep their assets in their family but worry about how the beneficiaries will utilize the funds. For people like this, it may be wise to create a trust. In setting up a trust, the individual appoints a trustee, who administers the funds according to the purposes specified in the document. Not only does this allow the individual creating the trust to develop terms, but the trustee will also then make sure heirs follow the stipulations if they want to receive the funds.

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Most people understand that it is important to have an estate plan in place from a young age. In fact, most financial planners recommend that every newly minted adult creates a basic estate plan. At the very least, it is crucial to have an estate plan in place once you start a family of your own.

But did you know that you should also be updating your Houston estate plan periodically?

The reason to review and modify your estate plan regularly is simple: Families and life circumstances do not stay static, so neither should your estate plan. Given this fact of life, the general rule of thumb is to update your estate plan every three to five years. Another method to determine the right time for an update is to review your plan at times of major life changes, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, or a divorce.

There are unique challenges that families with adopted children face; however, most of these families do not know that estate planning is one of them. A Houston estate plan is essential for all people, but especially for families with adopted children because of the different laws they are subjected to. Texas law treats families differently, based on whether the children are legally adopted or not. Below are various estate planning and inheritance situations, all of which depend on the legal make-up of a person’s family.

Legally Adopted Children

When children have been legally adopted into the family, they have the same legal rights as biological children. This includes equal rights in estate planning situations, and biological and adopted children will receive the same inheritance and property when their parents have passed away. Therefore, legally adopted children will be treated the same if the parent has a will and trust in place. This occurs even if the adoption is finalized after the will or trust has been created.

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“You may have a friend, or two, who has blown a large inheritance. Some of you may have also seen a news story about a lottery winner who went bankrupt (or worse) just a few years after receiving a life-altering sum of money. If you don’t want this to be you, keep reading as we share five tips to make the most of an inheritance or windfall.”

Studies have shown that when people unexpectedly come into money, they’ll treat it differently than the money they’ve earned.

Forbes’ recent article entitled “5 Important Steps To Maximize An Inheritance” says that even the most financially astute consumers can get inundated with their newfound wealth. People can feel pressure to use the cash to purchase new vehicles, bigger homes, or even take their families on dream vacations. Others may feel that they can safely quit their jobs and live the life of luxury.

2.11.20“Receiving an inheritance can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's overwhelming, thanks to the intense emotions associated with losing a loved one combined with the confusion about what to do with the newly acquired assets. On the other, an inheritance can re-invigorate your finances and create new opportunities for you and your family.”

Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “How to Handle Inherited Investments” provides us with some of the top inheritance considerations:

Consider Cash. Besides cash, the most common inheritances are securities, real estate and art. These assets usually go up in value, but another big benefit is their favorable tax treatment. The heirs won’t pay capital gains on unsold investments that went up in value during the lifetime of the deceased (estate taxes would apply). Those taxes would only apply to the gains that happened after they took possession.  There’s a good reason to hang onto these investments. These types of property carry some risks, so you may consider putting some of your inherited investments into cash, cash equivalents, or life insurance with a guaranteed payout to avoid exposure to undue risk.

2.3.20“The heirs of a philanthropist who donated a historic theater to the City of Miami want it back.”

A dissolved nonprofit controlled by the heirs of Maurice Gusman sued the city of Miami recently, in an attempt to regain control of the Olympia Theater and restore it to its former glory. They claim city officials have squandered the theater built in 1926 and violated the terms of an agreement with their grandfather, Maurice Gusman.

The heirs and the dissolved corporation’s directors are Maurice Gusman’s grandchildren: Bruce Gusman, Robert Gusman and Jackie Gusman Thayer.

12.30.19It’s a problem that most people wish they had: a sudden influx of money, sometimes a lot of money. It can be overwhelming, and the most important thing to do is—nothing, at first.

The first thing to do when you are newly flush with money, is take a few deep breaths. Then take a long, clear look at your financial status, advises’s recent article, “Handling unexpected wealth.”

Depending on how much you have received, you could be in a very different place financially. You should take an in-depth look at your net worth and cash flow.

10.21.19There are many inheritance scenarios, where people hope that a simple solution will save them time and money. Unfortunately, that’s not always the way estate or tax laws work.

A woman received joint ownership of her father’s house about a decade ago. Her father is still living there, and so is her sister. The woman doesn’t pay for any of the expenses; she and her father take care of their own costs. The sisters plan on selling the home, after their father passes. The woman wonders if she can simply give her sister her half of the home and avoid paying any taxes.

This situation is expanded upon in recent article, “My sister and I own my father’s home. How can I avoid taxes?” The article notes that a sibling may give her half of a home owned in joint ownership to a sibling, but there may still be some tax consequences.

8.14.19One of the reasons for a pre-nuptial agreement, is to clarify who owns what in the marriage, and what happens to property if the marriage should dissolve. In a community property state, everything is “ours.”

If you live in a community property state, like Texas, and you are married, both spouses own and have an equal right to assets, which are considered marital property. The issue is explored in’s recent article, “Does this house really become community property after marriage?”

Let’s imagine you own a home before your second marriage and created a will leaving the condo to a child. However, you sold the home and purchased another house in your name using funds from the sale and your own funds.

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