Estate Planning

Estate planning is not just for people who are wealthy, have complex wishes for passing their assets to their heirs, or for people who are ill and contemplating their death. Rather, proactive estate planning is important and available for people from all walks and across all stages of life.

Estate planning is for every husband, wife, mother, father, grandparent, single person, business owner, professional, or anyone else who:

  • has someone they care about,
  • is concerned about providing responsibly for their own well-being and for the well-being of those they love, and
  • for anyone who seeks to preserve a legacy and make a difference in the lives of others after they’re gone.

When done properly, estate planning requires that a highly-trained professional lead you through one or more in-depth meetings to uncover the hopes and expectations for yourself and for those who are most important to you. This process almost always requires the preparation of several sophisticated legal documents, but those documents themselves are not ‘estate planning.’ Planning is a process, represented by a complete strategy, which is properly documented and maintained by a legal professional who has taken the time to get to know you, and who is committed to continuing to serve you.

Call our office today if you are ready to discuss how estate planning will be of value to you and your loved ones.

Estate Administration

Our law firm assists families with empathy and care when a loved one has passed away. Estate administration generally involves managing a probate process and/or administering a trust on behalf of an estate following death.

Probate

Probate is a lawsuit filed in a local probate court after a client passes away. Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing the individually-owned assets of a deceased person (decedent). Assets are distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with the instructions written in the decedent’s will.

Texas has an efficient and generally cost-effective probate process provided that the decedent has a properly drafted will that meets the requirements of the Texas Estates Code. Assets that are titled in the decedent’s name will pass according to the will and must be included in the probate estate.

The good news, though, is that probate can be avoided with careful estate planning. There are several techniques available that enable an estate to avoid the time, expense, and public nature of a probate process. Many of our clients utilize a revocable living trust that allows their estate assets to be distributed to beneficiaries after the death of the grantor (trust maker). Additionally, contract assets such life insurance, retirement accounts and annuities, as well as assets owned by joint tenants with right-of-survivorship designations, can pass directly when the beneficiary designations have been executed properly.

Trust Administration

If estate planning is the process of designing a playbook, then estate administration involves putting that playbook into action. The process begins with an event that triggers a provision in an estate plan, usually incapacity or death. Upon the occurrence of the trigger event, the plan becomes ‘executory’, meaning that the individuals designated in the estate plan documents must step into action and execute according to the plan’s instructions.

Estate administration can be complex and the people who have been designated in the estate plan must have competent and experienced counsel to guide them through the process. Administering an estate generally involves preparing property inventories, filing tax returns, managing estate assets, and dividing and distributing property to those individuals or charities that were identified in the will or trust agreement.

The estate administration process carries a lot of responsibilities. Our law firm can help guide your loved ones through the process as sensitively and efficiently as possible.