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.

3 Decidedly Dumb Ways to Leave an Inheritance for Your Children

By |2019-04-23T16:13:30+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 |2019-04-23T16:10:56+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 |2019-04-23T16:08:17+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 |2019-04-23T16:00:31+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 |2019-04-23T15:59:09+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 |2019-04-23T15:57:44+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 |2019-04-23T15:56:31+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 |2019-06-26T22:13:10+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 |2019-04-23T15:52:03+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 |2019-06-12T11:45:05+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 [...]