Wills

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...

New 2021 Upcoming Changes To Estate Planning and Probate

I usually do not write about pending legislation because the language in bills can change at lightening speed and it is difficult to summarize a bill without partisan spin. This year is different. The proposed changes are so drastic and impactful on estate planning and probate that you need to know what is out there. The top 4 laws to watch are the federal estate and gift tax exemption, portability,...

The Imperiled Federal Estate Tax Exemption

Is dying a taxable event? According to your friendly Federal government, the answer is yes. Let us ask a more meaningful question: is it fair that the government gets to take 40% of your hard-earned money just because you die? Class? What Is The Federal Estate Tax for 2021? We have a federal estate tax of 40%. Most people do not pay it because their estate does not exceed the federal estate tax...

Probate Homestead – The Right of Occupancy

Home. Your home is where your family resides. If it happens that your home is one on a piece of land that you or your spouse owns, then your home is considered your homestead. There is a lot of Texas law about homesteads. The Texas Constitution, the Texas Property Code, and hundreds of cases define homestead rights. That brings us to the subject of probate homesteads. For purposes of estate planning, you...

3 Types of People That Can Sabotage Your Estate Plans

One of the benefits of practicing estate and trust litigation in Texas for nigh-on 4 decades is that few things surprise me anymore. In fact, some fact patterns occur so often that it is not unusual for me to have a sense of déjà vu during a new case consultation. Here are three of the more common situations that can mess up even the best-laid plans. The Manipulative Adult Child....
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