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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.

Your Vacation Checklist

By |2019-06-12T11:45:05+00:00June 12th, 2019|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|Tags: , , , |

You’ve packed sunblock and a beach novel. You’ve planned your itinerary and bought plane tickets. But have you ensured that your estate plan is up to date? Don’t leave home without making sure your financial health and the future of your loved ones is provided for. It’s even more crucial than getting a pet sitter and locking the front door. Creating an Estate Plan If you don’t have an estate plan yet, don’t panic. Now is a great time to connect with a qualified estate planning attorney who can sit down with you and get you started with an appropriate [...]

The Silent Threat to Your Estate Plan

By |2019-04-23T15:50:13+00:00June 11th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

It is common knowledge that everyone needs to have an estate plan in place. Commonly, the focus is on assets, taxes, and any changes to legislation that may affect the security of your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death. What many often forget, however, is that changes in family dynamics and circumstances can threaten even the most well thought out estate plan. This silent threat can easily keep your estate plan from actually working when it is truly needed. Below are several situations where updating an existing estate plan or creating a plan for the first [...]

Wills, Trusts & Dying Intestate: How They Differ

By |2019-06-05T09:41:22+00:00June 4th, 2019|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Trusts|Tags: , |

Most people understand that having some sort of an estate plan is a good thing. However, many of us don’t take the steps to have an estate plan prepared because we don’t understand the nuances between wills and trusts – and dying without either. Here’s what will generally happen if you die, intestate (without a will or trust), with a will, and with a trust. For this example, we’re assuming you have children, but no spouse: If you should die intestate, your estate will go through probate and all the world will know what you owned, what you owed, and [...]

What is an Inheritor’s Trust?

By |2019-06-05T09:47:53+00:00May 28th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|Tags: , , , , |

When it comes to estate planning there are several types of tools you can use, depending on your circumstances. One such estate planning tool is the trust. There are numerous types of trusts aimed at fulfilling different estate planning purposes. If you are anticipating an inheritance, there is a special type of trust designed to help protect it: an inheritor’s trust. Purpose of an Inheritor’s Trust An inheritor’s trust is a trust that has been established for the purpose of receiving a beneficiary’s inheritance in a way that is protected legally and financially. In order to fulfill its intended purpose, [...]

The More You Know: Reverse Mortgages & Estate Planning

By |2019-06-05T09:52:12+00:00May 21st, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, HOME/PROPERTY OWNERSHIP, RETIREMENT|Tags: , , |

You have likely seen several advertisements for reverse mortgages if you have spent any time watching television or surfing on the internet. The concept and sell is a simple one: as long as you own and live in your home, you can supplement your retirement income with a loan that you do not need to pay off. The trade-off when it comes to a reverse mortgage is that you are using your home’s equity to receive that extra retirement income. Even if a reverse mortgage is right for your circumstances, entering into a reverse mortgage is something that should be [...]

Do your parents have an estate plan?

By |2019-06-06T20:27:52+00:00May 14th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , , |

Happy family watching television on sofa at home If you find yourself in the “sandwich generation” (someone who is caring for both your children as well as your parents simultaneously), you need to know whether or not your parents have put together an estate plan. While it is still your parent’s choice to make estate planning decisions, having a plan -- no matter how late in life it is created -- is an absolute must. The thought of speaking with your parents about their finances and estate planning probably makes you want to run as fast as you [...]

How to Choose a Guardian for Yourself

By |2019-06-05T09:59:39+00:00April 30th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP, POA|Tags: |

Every day we make hundreds of decisions from what to eat for breakfast to where we go on vacation.  With each passing day, there are more choices to be made.  But, what will happen if you can’t make decisions for yourself?  Before that time comes, there is one important decision you need to make. Who do you want to serve as your guardian? For those of you who have had your estate planning recently done or reviewed, you probably discussed and executed a Financial Power of Attorney. For those of you on the fence about having your estate planning completed, [...]

Four Reasons Why Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Top 1 Percent

By |2019-06-05T10:00:22+00:00April 23rd, 2019|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE, Trusts|Tags: |

There is a common misconception that estate plans are only for the ultra-rich - the top 1 percent, 10%, 20%, or some other arbitrary determination of “enough” money.  In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. People at all income and wealth levels can benefit from a comprehensive estate plan. Sadly, many have not sat down to put their legal house in order. According to a 2016 Gallup News Poll more than half of all Americans do not have a will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan. These same results were identified by WealthCounsel in its Estate Planning Awareness [...]

DO IT NOW: NAME A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR MINOR CHILD(REN)

By |2019-06-05T10:01:40+00:00April 5th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP|Tags: , , |

We know it’s hard. Thinking about someone else raising your children can stop you in your tracks. It feels crushing and too horrific to consider. But you must. If you don’t, a stranger will determine who raises your children if something happens to you – your children’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even a stranger you’ve never met. No one will ever be you or parent exactly like you, but more than likely, there is someone you know that could do a decent job providing for your children’s general welfare, education, and medical needs if you are [...]

WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MEDIATION

By |2019-06-05T10:03:16+00:00April 2nd, 2019|Categories: DIVORCE|Tags: , |

What Is Mediation? The goal of mediation is to use the assistance of a neutral third party to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both the parties. It helps both parties walk away with a satisfactory outcome, without the financial and emotional cost of a court case. The mediation process consists of a mutual endeavor. Unlike in negotiations (where parties are often entrenched in their positions), parties to a mediation usually seek out mediation because they are ready to work toward a resolution to their dispute. The mere fact that parties are willing to mediate in most circumstances means [...]

PARENTAL WARNING: IF YOU OWN YOUR PROPERTY THIS WAY, YOU MAY ACCIDENTALLY DISINHERIT YOUR OWN CHILDREN

By |2019-06-05T10:04:28+00:00March 8th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, HOME/PROPERTY OWNERSHIP|Tags: , , , , , |

Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous.  Sadly, children – both minor and adult – are often disinherited. While there are several forms of joint ownership, the one most people use (and the one considered in this discussion) is called “Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship.” When one owner dies, the jointly owned asset automatically, by operation of law, transfers to the surviving owner. Joint ownership is a very common way for married people to own their assets. Joint ownership is also commonly used by aging parents and their adult children. Joint [...]

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND ESTATE PLANNING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

By |2019-06-05T10:06:41+00:00March 7th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , |

Cryptocurrencies have been making headlines as of late, with more and more investors wanting in on this digital currency. Cryptocurrencies are attractive because they are unregulated, decentralized, and anonymous. While secrecy is useful in some areas of life, when it comes to estate planning it can lead to disaster. Indeed, your entire cryptocurrency investment can essentially disappear into thin air the moment you pass away or become incapacitated. If you have not taken the proper steps to plan and protect these assets, your loved ones left behind have no way of accessing or recovering them. Cryptocurrencies Explained Cryptocurrency is a form [...]

5 TRAGIC MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN LEAVING ASSETS TO THEIR PETS

By |2019-06-05T10:09:48+00:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|Tags: |

5 Tragic Mistakes People Make When Leaving Assets to Their Pets A pet trust is an excellent way to make sure your beloved pet will receive proper care after you pass on. The problem, of course, is that you won’t actually be there to see that your wishes are carried out. It’s critical to set up a pet trust correctly to ensure there are no loopholes or unforeseen situations that could make your plans go awry. Here are 5 tragic mistakes people often make when leaving their assets to their pets. 1. Appropriating more than the pet could ever need. [...]

What Estate Planning Awareness Means For You

By |2019-06-05T10:11:25+00:00October 15th, 2018|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: , , , |

The third week of October is National Estate Planning Awareness Week (Oct. 15-21, 2018). Estate planning is important for everyone regardless of wealth or family status because if you become incapacity or pass away without an estate plan, you are leaving the distribution of your assets subject to state law – and the results may not be what you want or expect. Estate Planning Explained Estate planning includes the growth, protection, and transfer of a person’s wealth through the creation and maintenance of an estate plan. The concept of estate planning is important and twofold: (1) to have a strategy [...]

RETIREMENT PLANNING FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

By |2019-06-05T10:13:49+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|Tags: , , , |

For many employees, saving for retirement is usually a matter of simply participating in their employer’s 401(k) plan and perhaps opening an IRA for some extra savings. But, when you’re the owner of a business, planning for retirement requires proactivity and strategy. It’s not just the dizzying array of choices for retirement accounts, there’s also planning for the business itself. Who will run the business after your retirement? Additionally, your estate plan must integrate into your retirement and business transition strategy. Owners of businesses (like employees and everyone else) want to make sure they will have enough money in retirement. [...]

REWARDING YOUR EMPLOYEES BY GIVING THEM THE BUSINESS

By |2019-06-05T10:15:18+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: BUSINESS PLANNING, Design, ESTATE PLANNING, RETIREMENT|Tags: |

Retiring from your business can a tough decision.  To ensure that what you have built continues on, there needs to be a plan for succession.  For some people, they have spent years grooming a child or other family member to take over, wanting the business to stay in the family.  Others look to sell to a third party for a quick way out that will also give them a nest egg for their next phase of life.  However, there is a third option–transferring the business to your employees.  If you like the idea of transferring your business to long-time faithful [...]

A TRUST FOR FLUFFY OR FIDO? WHY EVERY PET PARENT NEEDS TO CONSIDER A PET TRUST TODAY

By |2019-06-05T10:16:17+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|Tags: |

Estate planning is about protecting what’s important to you. Although much of the traditional estate planning conversation focus on surviving spouses, children, grandchildren, many pet parents wonder about what could happen to their “furry children” after their death or if they become incapacitated and unable to care for the pets. Read on if you’ve ever thought, “What will happen to my cat, dog, or other pet if I pass away?” “What if I’m incapacitated and unable to care for them?” Enter the pet trust. This tool is something that can be easily incorporated into a new or existing estate plan [...]

ARE YOUR DOCUMENTS FOLLOWING THE SAME SCRIPT? BASICS OF BENEFICIARY FORMS AND ESTATE PLANNING

By |2019-06-05T10:17:46+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING|Tags: |

In the event of your untimely death, the manner in which your beneficiaries — or those people who receive your assets from your estate — are determined is highly dependent on how your property is titled. Generally, property with title includes vehicles, boats, airplanes, real estate, bank accounts, savings bonds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and stock certificates. If you die without a will or a trust and haven’t used any beneficiary or transfer on death options, state law will determine who inherits property with a title. On the other hand, property without a title, such as jewelry, antiques, art, [...]

WHO SHOULD BE YOUR SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE?

By |2019-06-05T10:19:25+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Design, ESTATE PLANNING, Trusts|Tags: , , |

If you have a revocable living trust, you probably named yourself as trustee so you can continue to manage your own financial affairs, but eventually, someone will need to step in for you when you are no longer able to act due to incapacity or after your death. Your successor trustee plays an important role in the effective execution of your estate plan. The Key Takeaways: Because successor trustees have a lot of responsibility, they should be chosen carefully. Successor trustees can be your adult children, other relatives, a trusted friend, or a corporate or professional trustee. Responsibilities of A [...]

DO IT NOW: NAME A GUARDIAN FOR YOUR MINOR CHILD(REN)

By |2019-06-05T10:23:25+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, GUARDIANSHIP|Tags: |

We know it’s hard. Thinking about someone else raising your children can stop you in your tracks. It feels crushing and too horrific to consider. But you must. If you don’t, a stranger will determine who raises your children if something happens to you – your children’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even a stranger you’ve never met. No one will ever be you or parent exactly like you, but more than likely, there is someone you know that could do a decent job providing for your children’s general welfare, education, and medical needs if you are [...]