Wills

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...

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;...

Looking For the Storybook Ending – Plan Before the Crisis

The storybook picture of aging looks something like this: grandfather sitting comfortably in his cozy chair in his tidy home, beverage of choice at hand, his multi-generational family gathered ‘round as he relates yet another folksy, but morally instructive, story garnered from his long and fulfilling life. The alternative picture of aging looks something like this: grandfather, thirsty and alone, sitting in a worn chair in his dirty home surrounded...

Bad Choices Defeat Standing – Beneficiary Can’t Have it Both Ways

Speaking of costly decisions……. Dad had 3 sons. He wrote a will that left one of his sons, Charlie, a savings account worth about $150,000.     Then Dad died leaving a total estate of $1.5 million. His will was admitted to probate and shortly thereafter the executor transferred the $150,000 savings account to Charlie.   After Charlie assumed ownership of the savings account, he sued to set aside the will. He calculated that his...

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...

Issues in High Net Worth Divorces

A high net worth divorce is a divorce in which the property owned by the couple has a high monetary value.  While high-asset divorces follow the same legal principles and proceedings as non-high net worth divorces, the process is much more complicated and requires a more sophisticated approach. Two issues that must be addressed in all divorce cases - but especially in the context of a high net worth divorce...

The Benefits of Using a Real Estate Attorney When Buying a House

While Texas is among the states that do not require you hire an attorney when buying your house, there are times where an attorney can provide significant value.  A real estate attorney can add value if you are buying a home without a real estate agent, or in the event your transaction involves one of the many complex situations that can arise when buying a house.  Real estate agents...

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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