Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, and Probate Law are complex areas of law.
I have been an estate planning and probate attorney for over 16 years. I have been very fortunate to be able to remain in the area of law I love for my entire career.
ESTATE PLANNING – a good estate plan will help you stay in control of you assets while you are still alive, take care of you and your loved ones if you become disabled, and give you a framework for you to give your assets to whom you wish, when you wish, and how you wish.
An estate plan is based around one major document, which is either a Will or a Trust. The Will or Trust can contain testamentary trusts, which go into effect when the person who created the Will or Trust dies.
The other documents in the estate plan are the incapacity documents that are used when you are alive. They are:
• Medical Power of Attorney,
• Financial Power of Attorney,
• Declaration of Guardian for you if you become incapacitated,
• Declaration of Guardian for your minor children if you die or become incapacitated, and
• Directives to Physician which lets your family and doctors know your feelings about discontinuing life support if you are in a terminal or irreversible condition.
Also included are memorial instructions for your family.
ESTATE PLANNING FOR DISABILITY - One of the most important elements of estate planning is planning for disability. Many people will give serious consideration to estate planning for their death, because we all know that we will all eventually die. However, many people will fail to seriously consider planning for disability, because we do not always believe that we could become disabled. The truth is, as we live longer and longer lives through the advancements of medical technology, many of us will experience times of temporary disability and perhaps even a permanent disability. I want to assist my clients in designing instructions in their estate plan that not only provide for taking care of them in the event of disability, but also instructions that take care of the people that the client was taking care of prior to the client’s disability. The best way to do this is with a living trust.
TRUST - A revocable living trust is created by a trust agreement. You title all of your assets in the name of your revocable living trust so that your assets can be distributed by your Trustee, named in the trust agreement, upon your death as the agreement sets out.
Four good reasons to choose a trust are:
WILLS – A Will is a document that goes into effect upon your death. In your Will, you name your Executor and state how you would like for your estate to be distributed upon your death. A well-drafted Will takes into account the state requirements as well as the local rules of the jurisdiction. I have experience in the probate courts of many counties in Texas, including Travis, Bexar, Bastrop, Harris, Comal, Guadalupe, Williamson, and Hays Counties.
PROBATE - Probate of a Will is the name of the procedure that changes the name on assets from the decedent’s name to the beneficiary’s name. When I go to probate court, I go with the person who is appointed as Independent Executor in the Will. We present the original Will to the Probate Judge and he or she reviews the Will to ensure its legality, and asks the Independent Executor some questions which ‘prove up” the Will and ensure that the appointee has the appropriate qualifications. Once the Judge is satisfied, the Will is admitted to probate, the Independent Executor qualifies, and will receive Letters Testamentary. Letters Testamentary are the papers that the Independent Executor will present to account holders, real estate agents, and others to get the name changed on assets from the decedent to the beneficiary. After getting Letters Testamentary, the Independent Executor will have several other procedural requirements to accomplish in order to ensure that all assets are properly distributed and the court is satisfied.