Gratia P. Schoemakers, Esq.

About Gratia P. Schoemakers, Esq.

Gratia P. Schoemakers is the Owner and Founding Member at GP Schoemakers, PLLC a Texas web-based law firm with a Virtual Law office in the Houston/Galveston area. Gratia’s goal is to make Estate Planning more accessible to all Texans, whether they need a simple will, trusts, or more complex estate plan. As a mother and attorney, Gratia understands that you might be too busy to make it to a law office for a 9-5 appointment, or that you rather have a meeting from the convenience of your home. Our Online Estate Planning Services are designed for people just like you! If you are interested in getting your Estate Plan done, send Gratia a message and she will get back to you as soon as possible to help you protect you, your family and your future.

The Harmonious Family that Won’t Fight?  The Outcome May Surprise You

By |2020-09-18T00:44:23+00:00November 20th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Wills|

Most families are happy families. They get together for the holidays, share laughs, and tell stories. Everyone gets along and enjoys each other’s company. Then, the matriarch or patriarch dies. Suddenly, years of pent-up resentment and hurt feelings bubble to the surface, and the once-happy family is now embroiled in litigation over the decedent’s estate. When everyone is alive and happy, it is easy to think that nothing will break a family apart. Many people think that since everyone is getting along, estate planning is not needed because everyone will look out for one another and do what is fair. [...]

Revocable Trust  vs. Irrevocable Trust: Which Is Best for You?

By |2020-09-17T20:48:05+00:00November 13th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|

Trusts  allow you to avoid probate, minimize taxes, provide organization, maintain control, and provide for yourself and your heirs. In its most simple terms, a trust is a book of instructions wherein you tell your people what to do, when. While there are many types of trusts, the major distinction between trusts is whether they are revocable or irrevocable. Let’s take a look at both so you’ll have the information you need: Revocable Trusts. Revocable trusts are also known as “living trusts” because they benefit you during your lifetime and you can alter, change, modify, or revoke them if your [...]

Are Handwritten Intentions Enforceable? Princess Diana Thought So…

By |2020-09-17T20:42:11+00:00November 5th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Wills|

Princess Diana of Wales was one of the world’s most loved celebrities – and one of the richest.  Her tragic death in 1997 was world news. The majority of her estate, reportedly worth $40 million at the time of her death, was divided between Prince William and Prince Harry in her estate plan.  However, she also wrote a “letter of wishes” that directed her executors to give a number of personal effects to her godchildren. Those executors, her mother and her sister, went to court and had it ruled unenforceable.  Holographic Wills – Sometimes Enforceable, Sometimes Not Princess Diana’s letter [...]

Probate and Tax Issues

By |2020-09-17T19:30:07+00:00October 29th, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

They say nothing is certain except for Death and Taxes. It is no different during Probate! As the Executor / Administrator of an estate, your duty will entail among other things the duty to prepare and file all the tax returns for the Decedent and for the Estate. To help you get started, we will discuss the most common Tax documents that get filed during Probate. 1) The Decedent’s Final Personal Income Tax Return Because taxes are filed in yearly periods (January 1 – December 31), the Final Income Tax for the year of Death of the Decedent will likely [...]

Executor of an Estate in Texas

By |2020-09-17T19:27:05+00:00October 22nd, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

Executor of an Estate v. Administrator of an Estate In Texas someone is deemed the Executor of and Estate when there is Probate with a Will. If there is no will, but someone is appointed to administrate the Estate, that person will be called the Administrator of the Estate. In general their duties are the same, there might be some small differences, however in most cases, the terms can be used interchangeably. The Executor Duties under Texas Law The main duties that Texas law requires of an Executor / Administrator are: Identify and Collect the assets of the Decedent’s estate; [...]

What is Probate?

By |2020-09-17T19:51:22+00:00October 15th, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

Probate is the legal process during which someone’s estate gets distributed after their death. In Texas, an estate exists out of all the assets that are owned by someone at the time of their death. Thus, an estate may include: cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, life insurance, retirement accounts, cars, etc. Probate distributes a deceased person’s estate via two ways, the first, easiest and fastest way is to probate a Will. Most Wills in Texas are probated without any Will contest, and on average take 180-360 days, it can be longer depending on the complexity of the Estate, and the [...]

When is a Will valid in Texas?

By |2020-09-17T15:49:31+00:00October 8th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Wills|

Is my loved-one's will valid? Is one of the most important questions we hear from people. As with all legal questions, the answer is…. IT DEPENDS! Moreover, the validity of a Will depends on the TYPE of Will the Testator made, but before we go into this, here are the main requirements for wills in general to be valid. Legal & Testamentary Capacity & Testamentary Intent of Testator Texas law states for a Will to be valid, the following general requirements are needed (regards to the Testator): the testator/testatrix (person making the Will) to have legal capacity (be at least 18 [...]

Types of Probate in Texas

By |2020-09-17T15:37:59+00:00October 1st, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

They say nothing is certain except for Death and Taxes. It is no different during Probate! As the Executor / Administrator of an estate, your duty will entail among other things the duty to prepare and file all the tax returns for the Decedent and for the Estate. To help you get started, we will discuss the most common Tax documents that get filed during Probate. 1) The Decedent’s Final Personal Income Tax Return Because taxes are filed in yearly periods (January 1 – December 31), the Final Income Tax for the year of Death of the Decedent will likely [...]

Legal Zoom v. Lawyer: The Risks you NEED to know

By |2020-09-17T13:31:30+00:00September 24th, 2020|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Trusts, Wills|

LegalZoom, Momma-Bear and other do-it-yourself document preparation services advertise that making a Will is as easy. Although, it does not need to be complicated under the guidance of a knowledgeable lawyer, a DIY approach of filling in blanks on standardized forms, is no easy feat. We all heard the saying: “You get what you pay for!” and with legal planning this is most certainly the case. Companies that try sell you a “fast” and “cheap” fix try to make you believe that their product gives you “peace of mind”, yet there is no such thing. On the surface, things will [...]

Just Like You Need a Medical Checkup, Your Estate Plan Needs a Checkup!

By |2020-09-21T16:19:50+00:00September 21st, 2020|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Trusts, Wills|

Whether or not you currently have estate planning documents, one important item to add to your calendar is getting an estate plan checkup. Don’t Have an Estate Plan?   If you don’t already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your to-do list. Why?  Because without an estate plan, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, and your property and your loved ones may end up in a time-consuming and expensive probate proceedings after you die. Worse yet, if you don’t take the time to [...]

Anatomy of a Will

By |2020-09-17T13:21:58+00:00September 17th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Wills|

How do I write a will? To answer this common question, we should look at the anatomy of a Will. A will usually follows a certain pattern, this helps with determining if the testator knew what he/she was doing at the time that the document was written. The structure is in general as follows: Title (For example: “Last Will and Testament of Jane Doe”) Introduction (I, Jane Doe, of Galveston, Texas, declare this to be my Last Will and Testament …) Any prior wills must be revoked (For example: I revoke any prior wills and codicils made by me…) Who gets what (For example: [...]

Tips for Effective and Healthy Communication for Divorcing Parents

By |2020-09-14T20:47:39+00:00September 14th, 2020|Categories: DIVORCE|

The way we communicate is a big part of how we see and deal with the people around us. Most people who file for divorce had a communication meltdown at one point or another. It's more than usual... when emotions run high, we are stressed out, angry, disappointed, frustrated even, our communication skills usually one of the first things to suffer. Unproductive communication like yelling, abusive language, name-calling, withholding information, or even shutting down not only complicate the divorce process, it also is unhelpful for everyone involved. This blog article helps you improve or highlight any lousy communication skills (and [...]

Is now the time to remodel your old trust?

By |2020-09-17T20:36:03+00:00September 10th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, POA, Trusts, Wills|

There are several reasons why you should update your existing trust or perhaps your entire estate plan. While estate planning documents do not necessarily have a shelf life, they may not fulfill your goals when your circumstances change. Of course, having estate planning documents that are up-to-date is critical, but how do you know when you should make changes? Reasons to Make Changes It is important to note that just because you have a trust in place does not mean you are bound to keep it as is; this is even true if the trust was inherited from someone else. [...]

Are Any of These 11 Mistakes Lurking in Your Estate Plan?

By |2020-09-10T19:53:59+00:00September 2nd, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

1) Lack of Healthcare and Disability Planning. The majority of deaths occur in hospitals or other institutions. Patients may be incapacitated to the point where they can no longer communicate their healthcare wishes. Advance Directives and a Healthcare Power of Attorney can identify healthcare proxy decision-makers, specify wishes for end-of-life care, and provide a formal plan to control financial and property matters. 2) No will or estate plan. Without proper planning, your estate may be tied up in probate court for months or years after your death, at a great emotional and financial cost to your family. 3) Lack of [...]

‘Till Death Do Us Part, Too: Estate Planning Tips for Commitment Without Marriage

By |2020-08-19T18:15:40+00:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Advice columnist Ann Landers once observed that “love is friendship that has caught fire.” If that’s true, there are thousands of ways for that blaze to unfold. For many Americans, such devotion and passion do not need to be neatly formalized as marriage. In fact, our cultural norms are shifting, and quickly. Consider the following: Per the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 112 million people in the U.S. are unmarried; 45 percent of our country’s households are “unmarried households.” In 2013, the CDC found that “cohabitation [without marriage] is now a regular part of family life in the U.S.” Unfortunately, the [...]

Kids Going Away To College?

By |2020-08-19T17:51:53+00:00August 19th, 2020|Categories: COLLEGE PLANNING, ESTATE PLANNING|

You may have been running around for weeks, getting your new college student off to school. It's exhilarating, and your heart likely is bursting at the seams. You're probably prouder than you can say, but you're a little afraid, too. How can you make sure your kid is going to be safe at school, so far away from home? A new Bed Bath and Beyond matching sheet set for the dorm sounds great, but it just doesn't seem like quite enough, does it? So what else can you do? Actually, there is something, probably not yet on your to-do list, [...]

Why Your Estate Planning Project Must Morph into a Process

By |2020-08-19T17:55:41+00:00August 12th, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

Many people put their estate plan on their to-do list as a one-time project: “Create estate plan” or “Meeting with lawyer 10:30 a.m. Thursday for estate plan.” Thinking of your estate plan as a single project or task to complete and move off your list is a common approach – but it’s also an approach that can land you in considerable hot water. Here’s why it’s essential to view your estate plan as a process, rather than a project. Process vs. Project: What’s the Difference? A project that takes several steps to complete – like an estate plan – can [...]

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