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.

Do you really need a trust?

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00October 8th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Although many people equate “estate planning” with having a will, there are many advantages to having a trust rather than a will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. While there are other estate planning tools (such as joint tenancy, transfer on death, beneficiary designations, to name a few), only a trust provides comprehensive management of your property in the event you can’t make financial decisions for yourself (commonly called legal incapacity) or after your death. One of the primary advantages of having a trust is that it provides the ability to bypass the publicity, time, and expense of probate. [...]

Do you really need a will?

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00October 1st, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

You May Not Think You Need a Will, But You Really Do.  Most Americans do not have a simple will as part of their estate plan. You might believe that a will is only for the rich and famous, and not the average person who has a far smaller net worth. On the other hand, you may think that a will is entirely unnecessary since you have a trust, jointly owned property, or have named beneficiaries on your insurance. So, do you really need a will? The short answer to this question is “yes.” In fact, everyone who owns anything [...]

Murphy’s Law and Estate Planning

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 24th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

 As the old adage goes “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Referred to as Murphy’s law, this well-known saying has no mercy. Sadly, estate planning is no exception to its wrath. There is hope! Below are five-estate planning mistakes and how to fix them: Incorrect guardian for your children: A will is a way for you to control what happens to your estate and your minor or disabled children from the grave. If you fail to put together a will, the state will decide who cares for them at a court hearing. If you do have a will, [...]

Trusts – The Swiss Army Knife of Estate Planning

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 17th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

 To the general public, a trust may seem like an advanced tool only for the wealthiest among us. But, the reality is that trusts are a foundational estate planning tool with a solid history for being highly effective in ensuring a person’s wishes are carried out. The process begins with the maker of a trust – commonly referred to as the trust maker, grantor, settlor, or trustor – transferring his or her ownership of certain assets to the trust. A trustee is then appointed to manage these assets for the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of the trust. In a “standard” revocable [...]

Avoid Living Probate: How to Keep Guardians and Conservators Out of Your Estate

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 10th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

While most proactive individuals know the importance of having a well-rounded estate plan, it is typically considered as something that will take effect after they have passed away. But there are in fact many ways in which comprehensive estate planning can have a positive impact on your life while you are still around to reap the benefits. Planning for Incapacity Most people who reach old age come to a point at which they are no longer in a position to handle all of their affairs on their own. In many cases this incapacity is due to dementia or other cognitive [...]

Why a Trust Is the Best Option for Avoiding Probate

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00September 3rd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

As Ambrose Bierce once darkly observed, “Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” Obviously, ideally, when someone passes away, the paperwork and material concerns associated with the estate are so flawlessly handled (thanks to excellent preparation) that they fade into the background, allowing the family to grieve and remember in peace. In fact, the whole business of estate planning – or at least a significant piece of it – is concerned with ease. How can assets and legacies be transferred to the next generation in a harmonious, stress-free, fair process? To that end, one primary [...]

How to Build Freedom From Court Interference Into Your Estate Plan

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00August 27th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

It’s clear why you might want to avoid court involvement in your estate for financial reasons, knowing that probate can quickly get costly and time consuming for those involved. But there is an emotional component to it as well. Your assets are just that: yours. And the idea of them being discussed and deliberated on in a public forum might not be such an appealing one. If you feel that the matters of your estate should be kept private and that your assets should be distributed to your loved ones rather than eroded by court fees, you’re not alone. And [...]

Money Isn’t Everything in Estate Planning

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00August 20th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

How to Pass Your Stories and Values to the Future Generations Money may be the most talked about wealth contained within a person’s estate, but the riches of their experience and wisdom can mean even more to family members down the line. Reinforcement of family traditions can be built into your estate plan alongside your wishes regarding your money, property, and belongings. After all, what really makes a family a family is its values and traditions — not the way its finances read on paper. It's an excellent idea to hold a family meeting in which you discuss the sorts [...]

3 Decidedly Dumb Ways to Leave an Inheritance for Your Children

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00August 13th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Estate planning offers many ways to leave your wealth to your children, but it’s just as important to know what not to do. Here are some things that are all-too-common, but textbook examples of what not to do or try.... “Oral Wills” If you feel you have a good rapport with your family or don't have many assets, you might be tempted simply to tell your children or loved ones how to handle your estate when you’re gone. However, even if your family members wanted to follow your directions, it may not be entirely up to them. Without a written [...]

The Tragic Loss of Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin: Lessons for Estate and Legacy Planning

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00August 6th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

On June 19, 2016, when successful actor Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the recent Star Trek movies) failed to show for rehearsal, his friends became worried and drove to his house. Sadly, they found Yelchin pinned between his security fence, brick mailbox, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. According to investigators, the 27-year-old star exited the vehicle before it allegedly rolled backwards down his steep driveway, pinning, and ultimately killing the Star Trek actor. Los Angeles County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter stated the cause of death as “accidental blunt traumatic asphyxia.” Two days later, Fiat Chrysler released a statement informing the public [...]

Who Is Your Beneficiary? Marilyn Monroe Ultimately Had No Idea

By |2019-09-10T14:24:31+00:00July 30th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

When creating a last will and testament, it’s important to know your beneficiary. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Marilyn Monroe, one of the world’s most famous icons, didn’t seem to have any idea to whom she left her money. Acting Coach & Psychiatrist Got Everything Marilyn Monroe died at the age of 36 from a drug overdose. The year was 1962 and there have always been questions as to whom she named as beneficiaries. In fact, her business manager, Inez Melson, was allegedly suspicious about Marilyn Monroe’s will when it was first drafted. Monroe’s will left some money to [...]

Estate Planning…A must whether you have a little or a lot!

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+00:00July 23rd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

 While everyone is celebrating during this holiday season, the manner of these celebrations can vary based on differing family traditions, religions, and geographic regions. Estate planning is no different—protecting your family’s future must be customized to fit your and your family’s unique needs. No matter your level of wealth, it is important to understand that the reasons for estate planning are universal. Estate Planning Basics  There are several reasons why an estate plan is necessary for everyone. Some of these include protecting beneficiaries, sidestepping probate, protecting assets from creditors, and avoiding a mess in the event of incapacity or death. [...]

When is probate necessary?

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+00:00July 16th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE|

 Whether or not you have an estate plan in place, you have likely heard the term “probate”. Probate is the legal process by which a deceased individual’s assets are distributed under court supervision. This process is necessary to distribute assets that are solely in the name of the deceased person. Probate is governed by state law. Avoiding Probate One of the appealing aspects of putting together an estate plan is to avoid probate. One way to avoid the probate process is to ensure that no assets will be titled in the decedent’s name, or providing for an automatic transfer of [...]

Three Legal Things to Do After a Scary Health Diagnosis

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+00:00July 9th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

A scary health diagnosis can be emotionally and logistically challenging for many reasons. For instance, how can you take care of your family if you’re physically incapacitated? In addition to working closely with your medical providers, consider these three legal tips: Check your estate plan with your attorney to make sure it is up to date. Do you count yourself among the 42 percent of American adults with a will or trust? If not, take action to start planning. Even if you do have an estate plan, review it. Maybe one of your heirs got married or died. Maybe you’d [...]

Estate Planning Tips for Someone Who Is About to Go in for Major Surgery

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+00:00July 2nd, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Getting the news that you have to undergo major surgery is never easy. Preparing for absences from work, planning for childcare and household responsibilities, and reviewing your estate plan will be among the things you may be worrying about. But, what if you only have a few weeks—or even days—to react? Who should you call? How can you concentrate enough to get this work done? Make the best use of your time by considering the following tips. Who should you call? After notifying loved ones of the impending surgery, you should call your estate planning attorney to ensure your documents [...]

After the Heart Attack: Get Your Estate Planning Done

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+00:00June 25th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds. That means approximately 790,000 people have a heart attack each year. If you have recently been hospitalized for a cardiac condition or other near-miss medical event, then you may be feeling a strong sense of urgency to get your estate planning done to protect your family, your business, and your legacy. Act on that feeling before you go back to your routine. Here’s how. Draft a Will and Trust Dying without a will can leave behind quite the mess [...]

What to Do When Your Doctor Says to “Get Your Affairs in Order”

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+00:00June 18th, 2019|Categories: ESTATE PLANNING|

Five words no one ever wants to hear from their doctor: “Get your affairs in order.” Unfortunately, 58 percent of Americans do not have a will or trust, and it often requires a chronic disease or terminal illness diagnosis, or other life-changing event to prompt the estate planning process. Talk to your attorney about completing the documents below and follow these tips to protect your future and make the circumstances easier for your loved ones. Living Will A living will sets forth your wishes for what medical treatments you do or do not want; it eases the burden on loved [...]

Your Vacation Checklist

By |2019-09-10T14:24:32+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 |2019-09-10T14:24:32+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 |2019-09-10T14:24:32+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 [...]