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How to talk about your estate plan with your family

 Posted on February 28, 2022 in Uncategorized

In Texas, one of the most important steps you can take to secure your loved ones' futures is to have an estate plan in place. This document will dictate how your estate should be handled after your death. It's important to have a frank discussion with your family about your estate plan so that they know what to expect.

Why should you have the discussion?

There are a few reasons why having this conversation is so critical. For starters, it can help avoid family conflict. If everyone knows what to expect, there's less of a chance for disagreements to arise about who should inherit what.

This conversation is also so important because it allows you to make sure that your wishes are carried out after you die. You may want to leave particular assets to certain family members, or you may want to set up a trust to take care of your children. Whatever your wishes may be, having this conversation with your family can help make sure they're carried out.

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Ensure your business is in safe hands with an estate plan

 Posted on December 01, 2021 in Uncategorized

Your business in Texas is likely to deteriorate if you pass away or become incapacitated without an estate plan. Estate taxes, unclear ownership and leadership are the leading business killers. Here's how you can make sure your business is in safe hands with an estate plan.

Estate planning for business in Texas

Estate planning for business involves setting up strategies that determine how your beneficiaries, business partners, creditors, etc., will deal with your company if you're incapacitated or after your passing. This is critical because even when you are incapable of working, things should go according to your plan. In addition, a good estate plan can help your beneficiaries or your business itself from suffering serious tax consequences.

Get all documents tied to your business in order

For you to create a solid estate plan, you need to first find all the documents that prove your ownership and authority in your business as well as your other assets. For instance, a financial power of attorney will give someone you trust the power to run your business or estate when you are incapable. While that is in action, you can use an advanced health care directive to give someone power to make medical decisions for you or have your own directives regarding how doctors should treat you when incapacitated. Other important documents include:

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How to estate plan for generational wealth in Texas

 Posted on August 26, 2021 in Uncategorized

It might be every hardworking Texas resident’s dream to create generational wealth that will keep their family supported for years to come. Even if you’re a millionaire, it still takes careful planning to create substantial generational wealth that will last beyond when you pass.

The exact estate plan that you set up will depend on what assets you have to your name and how much you want to leave behind. In general, though, there are some things that people who wish to leave enough behind to jumpstart a tradition of generational wealth can do with their estate plans.

What’s one of the biggest takeaways for estate planning?

Before you start estate planning, it’s important to be intentional with your planning. Generally, you can either plan around the family you have that’s living at the time of your estate planning or you can plan into the future.

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How long does the probate process take?

 Posted on May 20, 2021 in Uncategorized

If you recently lost your mom or dad, you now may be in charge of settling their estate. You might feel overwhelmed by this task. You know the process may be complicated. You also know that the probate process can be lengthy. So how long exactly will probate take?

Understanding probate

First, you may not know exactly what probate is. It is the legal process involved in settling someone's estate. With a will, probate involves proving that the will is valid, distributing the assets as the will lays out and paying any applicable taxes. How long it will take your parent’s estate to go through probate depends on several factors. If their estate is simple and no one disputes their will, you could settle their estate within six months. If your parent had set up a living trust for their assets, those assets don't have to go through probate. However, the probate process could take more than a year if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • If you live in a different state and can’t easily meet with an attorney helping with the estate probate administration

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3 vital estate planning documents you need

 Posted on May 05, 2021 in Uncategorized

Estate planning is a way to ensure your wishes come to fruition even when you are no longer able to carry them out or supervise their fulfillment. Yet, according to InvestmentNews, in 2017 only 36% of parents with minor children and 42% of adults in general in the U.S. had a living will or trust.

It is important to begin preparing for the future early to take care of your loved ones. As you do, there are certain vital estate documents you need to assemble.

1. Last will and testament

This is the document in which you specify the distribution of your assets. It is also where you appoint a guardian for any underage children in your charge.

2. Medical directive

Also referred to as a living will, an advance directive or a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (the latter two are Texas labels), this is where you spell out important medical decisions in case you are later unable to advocate for yourself. For example, if you fall severely ill or suffer an injury that keeps you from speaking or making choices, this document tells medical personnel your desires. Subjects you may address include if you agree to life support, if you are willing to donate your body to science and more.

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4 signs your father’s will may not reflect his true wishes

 Posted on February 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

If your father drafted a will before he died, he had more of an estate plan than most. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly 70% of Americans do not have even a basic will. Still, whether you stand to inherit considerable wealth or nothing at all, you want to be sure your father’s will reflects his true wishes.

Undue influence happens when an influencer pressures a person to draft a will in a way that benefits the influencer often to the detriment of traditional beneficiaries. Here are four signs someone may have exerted undue influence over your father’s will.

1. Too much participation

While there is nothing inherently wrong with having a friend, family member or someone else help draft a will, too much participation from a nonprofessional may be a sign of undue influence.

2. Recent or unexplainable changes

If the will you review after your father’s death has recent or unexplainable changes from a version you saw before, someone may have convinced him to rework it. This is especially true if the will adds or removes beneficiaries.

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What is a special needs trust?

 Posted on November 10, 2020 in Uncategorized

There are some valuable estate planning tools available to individuals who have disabled family members, friends or other loved ones. One of these, a special needs trust, goes hand-in-hand with means-tested government programs, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

To be eligible for many types of public financial assistance, individuals must have limited income and assets. This is a problem in the estate planning context. After all, if you give cash or other assets directly to your loved one, you may inadvertently disqualify him or her from receiving government help.

Paying for supplemental expenses

To ensure your disabled loved one remains eligible for government assistance, the special needs trust you establish may not pay for his or her ordinary living expenses. Therefore, the beneficiary should use public assistance to pay for rent, food, utilities, medical bills and other necessary expenditures.

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What happens if you die in Texas without a will and have a surviving spouse?

 Posted on August 04, 2020 in Uncategorized

If you make no Last Will and Testament prior to your death, the state’s intestacy laws determine who inherits your estate and in what proportion. However, if you draft an enforceable will with the help of an estate planning attorney, you can determine exactly how you want your estate distributed, rather than leaving it up to the probate court. Otherwise, the following situations may apply if you have a surviving spouse:

Surviving spouse intestate situations

Texas intestacy law provides for the following five surviving spouse scenarios and their respective distributions:

  1. Surviving spouse, but no surviving parents, siblings or children: Your spouse inherits your entire probate estate.
  2. Surviving spouse and surviving children born to or adopted by you and (s)he: Your spouse inherits your share of the community property, plus one-third of your separate personal property. Your children inherit the rest of your probate estate. Your spouse also gets all your separate real property, but only during his or her lifetime. On his or her death, that property passes to your children.

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It may be time to review and modify your estate plan

 Posted on July 03, 2020 in Uncategorized

There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you finally create a comprehensive estate plan. Even though it forced you to think about the future, you’re now in better position to protect both you and your loved ones (as well as your assets).

However, there’s a big mistake lurking: neglecting to review your estate plan as time goes by.

It may not be something you enjoy, but there are times when you have to review and modify your estate plan. Consider the following:

  • The passage of time: As the years go by, there’s a greater chance that your estate plan will no longer suit your needs. Review it every year for potential changes. It’s your hope that everything can remain the same, but you never know when you’ll have to tweak it.
  • Divorce or marriage: When your marital status changes, so should your estate plan. For example, if you divorce your spouse, you probably want to remove them from your estate plan, as you don’t want them to receive anything in the event of your death.

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Do you need a family limited liability company?

 Posted on May 28, 2020 in Uncategorized

If you are fortunate enough to enjoy a supportive, loving and friendly family dynamic, you may consider starting a business together. Perhaps you and your spouse have the type of relationship where you work well together and complement each other when it comes to strengths and weaknesses, which would certainly contribute to your success.

You may also want to pass on the business to your children when you retire and want to protect it for that purpose. Another of your goals may be to protect your assets from creditors and/or have the ability to bypass probate after your death.

Would you consider forming a family limited liability company?

You may already know that a limited liability company provides members some protection from personal liability for the debts and legal obligations of the business without all the paperwork and legal requirements of a corporation.

This makes an LLC attractive to many people. If you happen to be a family-only owned business, you could form a family LLC, which also helps with your estate planning. A family LLC also allows you to provide profit distributions for generations of your loved ones.

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