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Estate Planning

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Beyond Wills and Trusts: Creative Estate Planning Tools


Besides wills and trusts, what other estate planning tools could benefit my family?

When most of us hear the term estate planning, we think of wills.  Wills are perhaps the most common estate planning tool, and for a good reason.  With a will, you can dictate who will receive what assets, allowing you control over your legacy.  In addition to having a will, many people utilize trusts as a part of their estate plan.  Trusts allow you to bypass the probate process, saving time and money.
Read more . . .


Monday, May 29, 2017

Don’t Store Your Will In Your Safe Deposit Box


Where do you store all of your important documents? If you are like most people, the answer is probably in a locked, fireproof box or safe, or at the bank in a lockbox. These are good places to store important documents because your documents will be protected from fires and other disasters, and they are safe from burglars, but when it comes to your estate planning documents, you may want to rethink your safe storage solution. Unless several family members have access to your safe or lockbox, some of your final wishes might get ignored.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 17, 2017

Three Pending Bills Could Impact Estate Planning in Texas


What changes to estate planning laws could come this year in Texas?

In this 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers are weighing a wide variety of proposed law changes.  Three pending bills could impact estate planning and elder law in Texas.  Anyone who has been putting off creating an estate plan or may soon be named as an agent in an elderly loved one’s estate plan should carefully review these proposed laws and amendments to existing laws as they may directly affect you or your loved ones.  Round Rock, Texas residents are encouraged to consult with an Read more . . .


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Long-Range Planning Is Critical In Museum Building And Estate Planning


Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Round Rock is getting a new museum. The Williamson Museum is opening a living history branch in a couple of historic buildings at 8 Chisholm Trail Road near Brushy Creek sometime in the next couple months. The museum will feature volunteers dressed in costume, portraying life as it was in Round Rock back in the 1870s. This museum will be a wonderful addition to our community because it will help us pass down an appreciation for history, and knowledge about the roots of our community, to the next generation.

In a way, every Read more . . .


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The “Anna Nicole Smith Case” Drags On


How bad do you think a probate case has to get before the judge says, “I beg you to recuse me. I don't want to deal with you people anymore.”? The answer is pretty bad.

Texas Probate Judge Mike Wood has been presiding over the lawsuit filed when Anna Nicole Smith’s husband, J. Howard Marshall II died in 1995 for decades, but he has now thrown up his hands a removed himself from the case.


Read more . . .


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Veterans Deserve Better


According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 1.6 million veterans living in Texas. Yet only a fraction of these vets are getting all of the benefits they deserve.


Read more . . .


Monday, January 23, 2017

A Look At Sam Houston’s Will


Sam Houston is one our state’s most beloved patriarchs. As the inscription on his tomb suggests, he was:

A Brave Soldier. A Fearless Statesman.

A Great Orator—A Pure Patriot.

A Faithful Friend, A Loyal Citizen.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A New Year’s Resolution That Does Not Require Calorie-Counting


A New Year’s Resolution That Does Not Require Calorie-Counting

Are you planning on setting a New Year’s resolution? If so, you are in good company. 45% of all Americans usually make New Year's resolutions, and 17% infrequently do so. This sounds pretty good until you consider only 8% of people keep their resolutions. Probably because most of them require extreme behavior modification, and, horror of horrors, calorie-counting! Why not set a resolution for 2017 that is easy to accomplish and calorie-counting free? Read more . . .


Monday, December 19, 2016

Preventing Will Contests

So, you have a will, but is it valid?  A will can be contested for a multitude of reasons after it is presented to a probate court.  It is in your best interest to have an attorney draft the will to prevent any ambiguity in the provisions of the document that others could dispute later. 

A will may be targeted on grounds of fraud, mental incapacity, validity, duress, or undue influence.  These objections can draw out the probate process and make it very time consuming and expensive.  More importantly, an attorney can help ensure that your property is put into the right hands, rather than distributed to unfamiliar people or organizations that you did not intend to provide for. 

At the time you executed the will, you must have been mentally competent, or of “sound mind.”  A court will inquire as to whether you had full awareness of what you were doing.   There will also be an inquiry into your understanding and knowledge of the assets in your name.  If, at the moment you executed the will, you were pressured or influenced by another individual to sign the document, it may be invalidated. 

If the document was signed under duress or undue influence, the provisions are likely to be against your intentions or requests.  Moreover, if you are trying to nullify a will on your own behalf, you are likely to need an attorney because it is very difficult and complicated to demonstrate the existence of duress, fraud, or undue influence.   If drafting a new will, counsel can ensure that your document abides by all of the validity requirements, so the will’s provisions can successfully carry out your intentions after your death.

For example, the will creator or “testator,” is usually required to sign the document before several witnesses who are over the age of eighteen, during a certain period of time.  A will or a certain bequest to a person could be deemed void if the beneficiary was also a witness.   In your state, you may be able to execute a “self-proving affidavit,” which may do away with some of the requirements in order to establish a valid will.  The testator should also designate a person to execute the document.  Consult your attorney to ensure that your will comports with your state’s particular laws and is sustainable against any future contests.  

 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Gun Trusts Allow Owners More Control, Easier Transfers


Earlier this year, an 1886 Winchester rifle became the most expensive gun ever sold when it was bought at auction by an anonymous bidder for $1.265 million. The gun was extremely desirable to collectors because of its storied history and low serial number.

Its original owner was U.S.


Read more . . .


Monday, October 31, 2016

Special Needs Trusts Help Prevent A Horrible Situation


Imagine a situation where someone inherits a money or a home after the death of a loved one and it ruins their life. This may sound like the set-up for a B-level comedy, but it is actually a horror story that plays out for many people with special needs.

To be clear, leaving money or other assets to someone with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities) is not in and of itself a bad idea. The sentiment behind the action is admirable. It is how the transfer of assets is done that actually causes problems.


Read more . . .


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