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.

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 [...]

10 Types of Trusts: A Quick Look

By |2020-09-10T21:12:34+00:00May 1st, 2020|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|

Considering the myriad of trusts available, creating an estate plan that works can seem daunting.  However, that’s what we, as estate planning attorneys, do every day. We know the laws and will design a plan which addresses your specific situation.  Here’s a look at the basics of ten common trusts to provide a general understanding. There will not be a quiz at the end. All you need to do when we meet is share your goals and insight into your family and financial situation, we’ll design a plan that incorporates the best documents for your situation. Bypass Trusts. Commonly referred [...]

3 Simple Ways to Avoid Probate Costs

By |2020-09-10T19:54:21+00:00April 24th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Trusts, Wills|

The bad news: probated estates are subject to a variety of costs from attorneys, executors, appraisers, accountants, courts, and state law. Depending on the probate's complexity, fees can run into tens of thousands of dollars. The good news: probate costs can be reduced by avoiding probate. It’s really that simple. Here are three simple ways to avoid probate costs by avoiding probate: Name a Beneficiary. The probate process determines who gets what when there is no beneficiary designation. So, naming a beneficiary is the easiest way to avoid probate. Common beneficiary designation assets include: Life insurance Annuities Retirement plans Create [...]

Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths

By |2020-09-10T19:50:52+00:00April 17th, 2020|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Wills|

Like any other complex subject, estate planning has its share of myths and misconceptions.  Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it’s needed. Estate Planning Myth #1 – You Don’t Need an Estate Plan Because Your Spouse Will Inherit Everything A common belief is that if you’re married and you don’t have a will or a trust, your spouse will still inherit everything.  Unfortunately this is not always the case.  Who will inherit your estate even if you’re married depends [...]

COVID19 and Virtual Estate Planning

By |2020-04-06T19:53:29+00:00April 6th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Trusts, Wills|

These are difficult and uncertain times. Deal with COVID-19, changes in work situation, homeschooling, and Stay-at-Home orders can be stressful and flat-out scary. With the Nations focus now on the our personal and communal health estate planning might not be of the greatest priority to you. Or if it is, you might have questions on how you are going to get it done without actually going to see and meet with an attorney. Remote Planning your Legal Documents We can help you create your estate plan from the comfort of your home. We will set up phone of Zoom meetings [...]

Virtual Estate Planning in the Age of COVID-19

By |2020-04-07T19:44:39+00:00March 18th, 2020|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, POA, Trusts, Wills|

As the New Normal has set in, and the COVID-19 guidelines are making traditional estate planning services impossible, we are still receiving requests by people to do their estate plan. If you are a fellow Texan looking to plan, we can help you. We have been helping people with their online planning for nearly a decade now, and are ready to serve you. Our flat fee simple estate plan package includes: Last Will and Testament Revocable Living Trust (if you choose to have a Trust Based plan) Declaration of Appointment for Guardian of a Child Durable Power of Attorney Medical [...]

4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

By |2020-02-24T16:56:24+00:00March 11th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

A will or trust contest can derail your final wishes, rapidly deplete your estate, and tear your loved ones apart. But with proper planning, you can help your family avoid a potentially disastrous will or trust contest. If you are concerned about challenges to your estate plan, consider the following: Do not attempt “do it yourself” solutions. If you are concerned about an heir contesting your estate plan, the last thing you want to do is attempt to write or update your will or trust on your own. Only an experienced estate planning attorney can help you put together and [...]

3 Tips for Overwhelmed Executors

By |2020-02-24T15:05:38+00:00March 3rd, 2020|Categories: PROBATE|

While it is an honor to be named as an executor of a will or estate, it can also be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are entitled. If you’ve found yourself in the position of “overwhelmed executor,” here are some tips to lighten the load. Get professional help from an experienced attorney. The caveat to being an executor is that once you accept the responsibility, you also [...]

There’s Never A Better Time Than Now To Get Your Affairs in Order

By |2020-02-25T20:38:12+00:00February 24th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Wills|

The idea of getting your financial and legal house in order is likely the last thing on your mind during the busy holiday season. But, getting started is much easier than you think. In fact, the end of the year is a good time to reflect upon the year that has passed and focus on your aspirations for the future. Don’t hold this task off for later. Some careful thought and a little bit of work now can go a long way to help you feel 100% confident about moving forward in the new tax year. In preparation for the [...]

The Top 2 Ways the Court Gets Involved in Your Estate, and How to Avoid Them

By |2020-02-11T22:40:20+00:00January 28th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP, PROBATE|

No one wants unnecessary court involvement in their life. But without careful and proactive estate planning, chances are that some aspect of your estate will end up being decided there. Here are two of the most common ways court proceedings can make their way into the management and distribution of your assets, along with the estate planning measures you can take to avoid them. Guardianship and conservatorship If you experience an inability to make decisions on your own behalf, also known as legal incapacity, and you don’t have provisions for what to do in this situation clearly outlined in your [...]

There’s Never A Better Time Than Now To Get Your Affairs in Order

By |2019-11-07T11:53:18+00:00January 21st, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP, POA, Wills|

The idea of getting your financial and legal house in order is likely the last thing on your mind during the busy holiday season. But, getting started is much easier than you think. In fact, the end of the year is a good time to reflect upon the year that has passed and focus on your aspirations for the future. Don’t hold this task off for later. Some careful thought and a little bit of work now can go a long way to help you feel 100% confident about moving forward in the new year. In preparation for the upcoming [...]

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