Our Estate Planning Services Include:
• Avoiding Taxes
• Guardianship of Children
• Premarital Agreements
• Domestic Partnership Agreements
• Business Planning
• Real Estate
If you already have an estate plan, a review, and other considerations may be necessary. A review will alert you to changes in the law that can require your documents to be updated. Please contact us by phone or our contact form if you would like us to review your estate planning documents.
Most importantly, estate planning allows an individual’s wishes to be carried out after their death. These wishes may include leaving items or assets for loved ones, ensuring a surviving spouse will be taken care of, providing tax benefits to beneficiaries receiving assets, or leaving a legacy to a particular charity, church, or non-profit.
Creating an estate plan helps ensure an individual’s wishes will be carried out as opposed to a court determining how an individual’s estate will be distributed. An estate plan can limit the costs of administration and prevent delays in the distribution of important items and gifts to loved one. An estate plan can also reduce taxes of the individual while they are alive as well as limit tax liability for beneficiaries
strategies to limit tax liability are unique to each individual. However, one of the most common tax benefits contemplated in an estate plan is limiting capital gains on the transfer of appreciable property – usually stocks and real estate. Other considerations include whether the estate or beneficiary bear the tax liability of transfers, effectively utilizing the annual gift tax exemption, and taking advantage of portability for the lifetime federal estate and gift tax exemption (for high net worth estates).
while individuals spend a lifetime investing for retirement, their retirement savings can become quickly depleted when one or both spouses require long-term care. Since the costs of this care can exceed six figures, estate plans should contemplate creating a safety net to preserve assets for the benefit of the healthy spouse and other loved ones individual wishes to provide for. This safety net is qualifying for Medicaid, which will pay the full cost of nursing home care.
This planning is recommended early since Medicaid rules to determine eligibility look at transfers made during the last 60 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the point of Estate Planning?
Estate planning allows an individual to direct the distribution of their assets to whomever they like – this usually has the effect of ensuring support of a spouse, child or grandchild. Estate planning can also reduce taxes that are paid by both the estate and any beneficiary who receives from the estate.
An estate plan may also avoid probate which can reduce estate administration costs and the time it takes to make distributions to beneficiaries.
What happens if I do not have a will or estate plan?
If a person dies without a will (known as dying intestate), then their estate is distributed according to the rules in the Texas Estate Code. It is unlikely that the inheritance rules in the Estate Code will be an exact match of how a person wished for their estate to be distributed.
What should I be thinking about before I meet with an attorney?
It’s a good idea to make a list of all your assets – bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, real estate and life insurance policies. It is also helpful to have a general inventory of your personal belongings – especially if any items have significant cash value or personal value (for example, a china set that has been passed down for multiple generations). Your attorney may have a questionnaire or intake form than can help you get started.
You also should be thinking about any goals – leaving money or property to certain people, charitable donations, etc
All of this information will be helpful for the attorney to provide the client with good estate planning options.