4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

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 [...]

By |2021-09-13T20:01:23+00:00March 10th, 2021|Categories: Estate Planning, POA, Trusts, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

Stress Test Your Estate Plan

So you have done the hard work of establishing an estate plan. Good for you! However, you still have serious work to do to ensure that the strategy you have selected will maximize your peace of mind and protect your legacy. Estate plans should be like living, breathing creations that reflect the changes in your life. Your life can and will change due to new births, children getting older, and other shifts in the family; changes to your investment portfolio, career and business; and changes to your health, where you live, and your core values. Likewise, external events, such as [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:14:29+00:00January 14th, 2021|Categories: Design, Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills|0 Comments

The Harmonious Family that Won’t Fight? The Outcome May Surprise You

Most families are happy families.  They get together for the holidays, share laughs, and tell stories.  Everyone gets along and enjoys each other’s company.  Then, the matriarch or patriarch dies.  Suddenly, years of pent-up resentment and hurt feelings bubble to the surface, and the once-happy family is now embroiled in litigation over the decedent’s estate. When everyone is alive and happy, it is easy to think that nothing will break a family apart.  Many people think that since everyone is getting along, estate planning is not needed because everyone will look out for one another and do what is fair.  [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:13:21+00:00January 7th, 2021|Categories: Estate Planning, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

Just Like You Need a Medical Checkup, Your Estate Plan Needs a Checkup!

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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:15:40+00:00December 18th, 2020|Categories: Design, Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

Are Handwritten Intentions Enforceable? Princess Diana Thought So…

Princess Diana of Wales was one of the world’s most loved celebrities – and one of the richest.  Her tragic death in 1997 was world news. The majority of her estate, reportedly worth $40 million at the time of her death, was divided between Prince William and Prince Harry in her estate plan.  However, she also wrote a “letter of wishes” that directed her executors to give a number of personal effects to her godchildren. Those executors, her mother and her sister, went to court and had it ruled unenforceable.  Holographic Wills – Sometimes Enforceable, Sometimes Not Princess Diana’s letter [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:15:33+00:00November 5th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Wills|0 Comments

When is a Will Valid in Texas?

Is my loved-one's will valid? Is one of the most important questions we hear from people. As with all legal questions, the answer is…. IT DEPENDS! Moreover, the validity of a Will depends on the TYPE of Will the Testator made, but before we go into this, here are the main requirements for wills in general to be valid. Legal & Testamentary Capacity & Testamentary Intent of Testator Texas law states for a Will to be valid, the following general requirements are needed (regards to the Testator): the testator/testatrix (person making the Will) to have legal capacity (be at least 18 [...]

By |2021-09-28T14:31:32+00:00October 8th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Wills|0 Comments

Legal Zoom v. Lawyer: The Risks you NEED to know

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 [...]

By |2021-01-22T13:49:52+00:00September 24th, 2020|Categories: Design, Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

Anatomy of a Will

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: [...]

By |2021-01-27T08:44:32+00:00September 17th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Wills|1 Comment

Is now the time to remodel your old trust?

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. [...]

By |2021-01-27T08:46:22+00:00September 10th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, POA, Trusts, Wills|0 Comments

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

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 [...]

By |2021-09-15T14:37:20+00:00August 26th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills|0 Comments

Why Your Estate Planning Project Must Morph into a Process

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 [...]

By |2021-09-15T16:02:23+00:00August 12th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, POA, Trusts, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

3 Simple Ways to Avoid Probate Costs

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 [...]

By |2021-01-27T11:27:28+00:00April 24th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths

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 [...]

By |2021-09-13T21:07:50+00:00April 17th, 2020|Categories: Design, Estate Planning, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

COVID-19 and Virtual Estate Planning

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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:44:06+00:00April 6th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

Virtual Estate Planning in the Age of COVID-19

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 [...]

By |2020-04-07T19:44:39+00:00March 18th, 2020|Categories: Design, Estate Planning, POA, Trusts, Wills|2 Comments

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

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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T21:50:56+00:00February 24th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, Guardianship, POA, Wills|Tags: |0 Comments

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

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. Working with your estate planning [...]

By |2021-09-30T15:42:23+00:00January 14th, 2020|Categories: Estate Planning, POA, Trusts, Wills|0 Comments

Oral Will in Texas

I recently had a family come through my doors, asking me to probate their loved-one's recorded will. He had fallen ill without making any prior estate planning and had decided to record his "last wishes" on his phone. Now the question becomes. Is a recorded will valid? In this case it was not, because it was created in 2019! Oral Wills or nuncupative wills were valid in very limited circumstances in Texas until September 1, 2007. This means any spoken will created after September 1, 2007, is not a valid will, according to Texas law. What is an oral or nuncupative [...]

By |2021-02-05T12:33:33+00:00September 7th, 2019|Categories: Estate Planning, Wills, wwPROBATE|0 Comments

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees 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 [...]

By |2021-09-21T21:47:58+00:00July 16th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning, Wills, wwPROBATE|Tags: |0 Comments
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