There are many questions surrounding the services we offer. We will try to answer some of the common questions below, but we invite you to use the form provided to ask us your questions. Or, feel free to call our office to schedule a consultation to discuss your needs. We’re here to help!
Do I need a will?
It’s a good idea. In a will, you can identify your family and the property that you want to pass to family, friends, or charity. You can also nominate the person or persons that you want to name as your executor. In addition, your will can provide the form in which your beneficiaries receive their gifts – outright, in custodianship until they reach age 21, or in a testamentary trust.
What happens if I die without a will?
When a person dies without a will, they are said to die intestate, and the court will identify the heirs who receive your property, in an heirship proceeding. See the article “Will You Leave Laughing Heirs?” The better solution is to provide, in advance, for medical decision making with a Medical Power of Attorney and financial decision with a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney or even a revocable trust.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies to declare that a will is the official will or name the heirs to inherit if there is no will, to marshal your assets, pay your debts, and distribute the net real and personal property to the proper beneficiaries. The person in charge is usually an executor when there is a will and an administrator appointed by the court when there is no will or no one named as executor in the will.
Do I need to avoid probate?
Most Texas estates do not need to avoid probate because of “independent administration.” If the will appoints an independent executor, then the executor’s only required duties are to file the will for probate, file an inventory, appraisement and list of claims, and to notify the beneficiaries named in the will.
Are there still sometimes to avoid probate?
Yes. If you own real estate in another state, you anticipate a will fight, you anticipate a period of incapacity before death, or for some other reasons you do not want your estate plan to be seen by the general public you should avoid probate by relying on a will to state your estate plan and instead use a trust as your main estate planning document. See the article “Wills vs. Trusts.”
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of making lifetime gifts and planning testamentary transfers, reducing the amount of income, estate and gift taxes, and appointing individuals to manage your estate. It also includes lifetime planning, asset protection, life insurance planning, pension plan beneficiary designations and charitable giving.
What is lifetime planning?
A will is effective only when a person is deceased, but anyone may experience a significant period of time before death where through mental or physical incapacity, financial or medical decisions cannot be made. The traditional way the law provides for the person in that situation is guardianship. Yet, guardianships are costly, can divide families, are court intensive and involve taking away the ward’s civil rights. Lifetime planning includes Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney.
Do you offer free consultations?
Yes. For probate and estate planning we provide a half-hour consultation for which you will not be charged if you choose not to use our services. We may charge a 1-hour consultation fee for organizations, but the payment is applied to your first invoice.
What do I bring to my free consultation?
Please provide us with any documentation that you have available by email or fax in advance of your consultation.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, we accept credit cards and e-checks online. We also accept Zelle and bank wire transfers.