Trusts

Deadlines Loom for the Recently Widowed

Dear New Widow(er): Your friends here at the federal government join me in sending condolences for your loss. We want you to know we are here for you.  To help get things started, we have structured a few special tax deadlines that you really do not want to miss. No wasted time grieving here! One deadline that may seem a bit silly, given that the estate tax exemption of $11.7 million, is...

How Financial Institutions Can Sabotage Your Estate Plan

Beware your financial institution. It can be the downfall of your estate plan. You and your financial institution have a contract. The terms of that contract can be found in your bank account signature card, beneficiary agreement or similar account agreement. You signed it when you opened your account. Financial Institution Restrictions Financial institutions can, through their contracts, impose restrictions on how you style your accounts and name beneficiaries. Those restrictions often...

Different Types of Trusts in Estate Planning

A trust is simply a contract between a “trustee,” who manages the trust, and a “grantor,” who establishes the trust. It is set up for the benefit of the “beneficiaries.” The trust document sets out the terms.  A trust is often considered the foundation of estate planning. While a trust is frequently characterized as a method to avoid probate, it has many other uses. For example, it can be used...

Hit by a Semi – Trusts Imposed in Secret

Trusts can pop up in the darndest places. Take wills, for example. In one case, Sam, a lawyer, drafted a will for his long-time friend and client, Nancy, that stated she was leaving all her property to him “to be distributed in accordance with the specific instructions I have provided him.” The will did not contain the specific instructions. Nancy died, leaving no husband and no children. Her will was probated and...

Trusts in Texas

A Trust is a legal chameleon. What is a Trust At its most basic, a trust is an agreement by a fiduciary (the trustee)  to hold property for the benefit of another.  A trust is not a separate legal entity. There are three players in a trust – the settlor (who establishes and sometimes funds the trust), the trustee (who administers the trust) and the beneficiary (who benefits from the trust). A trust...

The Rule Against Perpetuities Fades Away

If you are the grantor, beneficiary, creditor, trust protector, CPA, financial advisor, attorney or trustee of a trust, or if you just generally think trusts are a nifty idea and want to learn more, then you will find this of interest. The Rule Against Perpetuities for trusts in Texas is going on life support as of September 1, 2021 and Texas dynasty trusts are now a real thing. No fooling;...

Fatherhood by the Book – Law and Biology Not Always the Same

Happy Father’s Day! Ah, but this is a legal column, so let us look at that greeting a bit more closely.  There are many types of fathers. There are biological fathers, legal fathers, intended fathers, step-fathers and adopted fathers. A man might be a father for purposes of family law but not a father for purposes of the probate law.    Fathers can be presumed, contractual, or acknowledged. They can be estopped into...

What is the Difference Between a Living Trust and an Estate Plan?

In the realm of estate planning, there can be a lot of confusion around terminology. Often people come into our offices asking for or about one type of legal document or another, and either they do not understand what they are asking for, or they don’t understand the interplay among various legal documents. In this article, we will address two terms which some people use interchangeably, but which are...

Funding of Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable living trusts are often used as an estate planning tool. They are so common, in fact, that many people do not realize they come with special concerns. Below are a few of the issues that often arise. Bank Accounts Bank accounts that are transferred into a revocable living trust can easily exceed the standard maximum deposit insurance amount (SMDIA) insured by the Federal government. That insurance is intended to cover...

Epitaph Examples – Having The Last Word

What Is An Epitaph? Epitaph n. An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect. Following is a touching example: Here lie the bones of Parson Platt,/ Wise, pious, humble and all that,/ Who showed us life as all should live it;/ Let that be said — and God forgive it! Short Epitaph Examples Your epitaph may be your last and best chance to rewrite your history. Do...

Why A Medical Power Of Attorney Is Important

Many people question whether they need to invest the time and money to have certain legal documents prepared.  Often that question arises when they don’t understand what a particular document does for them.  Here we address one of those essential documents. What Is The Medical Power of Attorney? A Medical Power of Attorney is one of several “ancillary” documents that are regularly prepared along with a Will or Trust as part...

How To Fund A Trust

You have done your research, sought out and considered competent legal and tax advice, and finally decided to sign off on a revocable living trust-based estate plan. Now comes the hard part: funding the trust. What Is A Trust? To understand what and why you are doing that, you need to first visualize the basics of a trust. A trust is simply a written letter to the trustee with your instructions on...
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