Estate PlanningYour estate is your legacy. You have worked a lifetime to earn, save, and provide for others. You want to continue to sustain your family even when you are no longer here. In addition, you want to have a plan in place now that will allow for an orderly transition, both when you are no longer able to care for yourself or when you are no longer here. You should contact a Houston estate planning attorney today to begin the critical work of estate planning.

Why Estate Planning Is Critical

As you age, life gets more difficult for you and your family. One of the primary constraints no one wants to face is that as mental capacity diminishes, the law takes away the ability to sign a contract or testamentary documents when you no longer have the legal capacity to do so. In addition, managing your own finances gets harder, as your health declines.

Your family needs you to prepare before these contingencies happen. An estate plan makes things easier for your family in the long run. In addition, an estate plan will spare your family from difficult decisions when you are gone. Without an estate plan, your family will be forced to go through the uncertainty of court proceedings while Texas law dictates what happens to your assets. All the while, your family may incur legal expenses, and the distribution of your assets will be delayed.

Your family’s biggest nightmare is a battle over division of property and key decisions. Fights over money frequently tear families apart. You have spent a lifetime keeping your family together, and you do not want your family unit to be forever altered once you are gone. Having these discussions in place now can ensure a smoother and more harmonious process in the future. You would have the opportunity to put your wishes in writing for your family, so your wishes are clear

Further, an estate plan could help your family avoid the probate process entirely, which would be a huge relief in their period of transition and loss.

What Your Estate Plan Will Include

Your estate plan addresses several broad areas, and:

  • Provides instructions for the distribution of your property
  • Creates a mechanism to carry out the transfer of property thorough a trusted person, referred to as an executor
  • Establishes trusts that could avoid probate
  • Grants powers of attorney to selected person(s) who can make certain decisions on your behalf and specifies the scope of their decision making powers
  • Outlines your wishes for how your children are to be raised if they are still minors

All of these items are accomplished through a variety of legal documents, including a last will and testament, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, declaration of guardian, and more. You may use a number of instruments to transfer property. Some families will use a traditional will because they may find it less complicated based on the nature and size of their estate. In that event, the estate may need to go through probate if there are creditors and/or a need to wind down the estate.

Other clients may opt to use trusts to ensure a seamless transfer of assets. Trusts could help your family expedite the process of transferring assets, as trusts are not required to go through the probate process. Regardless of how you plan to distribute your assets, it’s best to consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss your available options.

How an Estate Planning Attorney Helps You

An estate plan is recommended for various reasons, including but not limited to preserving family wealth, avoiding taxes on some assets, providing for a surviving spouse and children, funding children’s or grandchildren’s education, or leaving a legacy behind to a non-profit organization. You can solidify these wishes through an estate plan by drafting a will, setting up a trust, granting powers of attorney, specifying your funeral arrangements, and/or directing charitable contributions.

While outlining an estate plan may not be an easy thing, an estate planning attorney can help you by:

  • Reviewing your situation and explaining the estate planning options that will work best for you;
  • Drafting the necessary documents to ensure that they are done correctly and properly executed; and
  • Helping you review your estate plan periodically to ensure it is up-to-date and still meets the needs of your current situation.

Estate planning affects everyone at some point in their lives, and it is about being proactive in terms of one’s assets – as well as planning for the future, A comprehensive estate plan is too important to try to tackle on your own with standardized and/or online legal forms. Instead, an estate planning lawyer will provide invaluable advice and service to ease the burden on your family in the future.

Probate Services

The process where a judge determines if a will is valid and an administration of an estate is necessary in the state of Texas is known as probate. When a person dies, it is important for an experienced probate attorney to evaluate whether an estate must go through the probate process in Texas for the assets are distributed to the named beneficiaries or heirs. Probate is sometimes a dauting and unwelcome task when a loved one dies. An experienced probate lawyer can absorb much of the burden and deal with any challenges that arise during the probate process.

We help families with the following:

  • Advise executors on collecting assets, dealing with creditors, and distributing estate property to the rightful beneficiaries
  • Complete the necessary paperwork for probate court
  • Represent interested parties to protect their interests during the probate process
  • Litigate when there is a will contest or allegations of a breach of fiduciary duties by an executor or trustee

Call an Estate Planning Attorney in Houston

There is a time when it is too late to call an estate planning attorney. You do not want to reach that point. Therefore, you need to be proactive today because you never know what tomorrow may hold. Contact attorney Nikki Davis online or call us at (713) 335-9585 to schedule a consultation. Your family will be grateful that you protected your legacy and planned your estate and enlisted the help of an attorney to do so. We will put our decades of experience to work for you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can your lawyers execute the estate plan?

Ethically, attorneys cannot include themselves as an executor of an estate without your consent. It is possible upon your written confirmation of your informed consent to have the lawyer execute the estate plan. If you have an attorney act as executor or co-executor of your estate, another attorney may be retained to represent the executor or co-executor. However, people do appoint their attorney to serve as both the executor and the counsel of the estate.

Do you conduct regular reviews of an estate plan?

An estate plan is not something to put into place and forget about. Your life and circumstances may change over time. It is the client’s obligation to contact the estate planning attorney to periodically review the estate plan and/or in the event of life changes such as a divorce, marriage or drastic change in wealth to ensure it still fits your current situation.

What is included in an estate plan?

Estate planning documents state how you want your assets distributed after death. It is common for estate plans to include wills and trusts, the powers of attorney, transfer deeds for real estate you own, and other forms allowing for the transfer of assets. Estate plans can also include advanced directives, which are legal documents that outline how a person wants to conduct an end-of-life plan or medical care in the event they become too ill to care for themselves or voice their wishes due to an illness.