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.

10 Types of Trusts: A Quick Look

By |2020-04-24T19:48:02+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 |2020-04-24T19:20:16+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 |2020-04-24T19:26:24+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 [...]

Estate Planning That Expresses Who You Are – 5 Things to Talk About with Your Family

By |2019-11-07T11:50:34+00:00January 14th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, POA, Trusts, Wills|

You intend to pass along your wealth through your estate plan, but what about your wisdom? Ensuring you accomplish both calls for a family meeting to have a conversation about your money, your legacy, and your core principles. Most families lead far-flung and busy lives, meaning the only time they see one another face-to-face is around the dinner table during a handful of major holidays. The estate planning process is a perfect opportunity to bring everyone together outside of those scheduled occasions — even if a child or grandchild has to attend via video chat. happy family having fun [...]

Why Your Estate Planning Project Must Morph into a Process

By |2019-11-07T11:41:50+00:00January 7th, 2020|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, POA, Trusts, Wills|

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 [...]

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

By |2019-11-07T11:31:34+00:00December 31st, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts, Wills|

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. Tonight being New Years Eve, I am sure some people will change their "status" from single to engaged, dating, or visa versa. I wanted to stop there for a minute and see how our romantic choices affect our estate planning. It is no secret, our cultural norms are shifting, and quickly. Consider the following: Per the U.S. [...]

Caution:  Your Traditional Asset Protection Plan is Set Up to Fail

By |2019-11-07T11:23:15+00:00December 23rd, 2019|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

You may be surprised to learn that not only has asset protection planning been around for a long time, but you have already engaged in it at some point during your life.  In fact, you probably have one or more types of traditional asset protection planning in place at this very moment.  The problem is in many cases the type of planning you have right now won’t be enough to protect you and your family. What is Asset Protection Planning? Asset protection planning is done to preserve and protect your property in advance of a claim, or the threat of [...]

Can You Bequeath Your Frequent Flyer Miles?

By |2019-11-07T11:19:37+00:00December 17th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

If you’re a frequent airline traveler, one of your estate planning concerns may be what will happen to your accumulated miles once you’re gone. They could be worth thousands of dollars, so you probably don’t want them to just disappear, but some airline policies say that’s exactly what will happen. The law doesn’t consider airline miles assets that can be bequeathed directly to heirs, but there are still some steps you can take to help ensure your miles live on. It all starts with examining the airline policies in question. Airline Policies Regarding the Transfer of Frequent Flyer Miles Some [...]

How Does an IRA Fit Into Your Estate Plan?

By |2019-11-07T11:13:11+00:00December 10th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

When you think of IRAs, you probably think of retirement. But what happens to your IRA money after you’re gone? The answer depends on how you go about creating your estate plan and selecting beneficiaries, and you might be surprised to find out that your money could end up with the wrong people or cause an unexpected tax bill if you don’t take action ahead of time. What your IRA means for your estate plan Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are often one of the biggest financial accounts you invest in over the course of your lifetime. When you’re working on [...]

How Does My Annuity Fit Into My Estate Plan?

By |2019-11-07T11:08:14+00:00December 3rd, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

Selecting the right type of annuity for yourself is no small feat. Of course, you’ve put in the research and planned with your financial advisors. But, you might still be wondering what happens to those annuity payments upon your death. In addition to their benefits as a financial tool for your goals, annuities can have a positive impact on your beneficiaries after you’re gone — but only if you take smart estate planning steps to make sure your wealth ends up in the right hands. Types of annuities Your annuity type affects how things pan out after your death. In [...]

Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths

By |2019-11-07T11:01:53+00:00November 26th, 2019|Categories: 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 [...]

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees

By |2019-11-07T11:01:21+00:00November 19th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Wills|

Today, it is impossible to put together even a simple estate plan without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Why? Because estate planning laws vary greatly from state to state and these laws are extremely convoluted and constantly changing. One wrong word, one missing signature, or one procedure not followed to the letter of the law can partially or completely invalidate a Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust, Advance Medical Directive, Living Will, or Durable Power of Attorney.  Though attorney fees may feel expensive, they’re actually not when viewed in light of the service and protections provided.  [...]

Estate Planning Considerations for Benefits Open Enrollment

By |2019-11-07T10:57:45+00:00November 7th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|

The fall, generally late-October or early-November, is the time when employers send out summaries of employee benefits offered by the company and give employees the option to enroll in these benefits. These can generally include retirement plan options, health care, dental, vision, short and/or long-term disability, and life insurance coverage. Your employer may pay 100 percent of the premiums, split the costs with you, or you may have to pay all of the premiums yourself. Below are several considerations you should keep in mind once open enrollment begins. Benefits Explained When considering any retirement plan offered through your employer such [...]