ESTATE PLANNING AND PROBATE
Estate planning is an important component when planning for your personal and professional assets. When you work with MehaffyWeber to develop an estate plan, we help you navigate complex areas of estate planning such as the tax advantageous integration of life insurance and retirement benefits, the personal and financial risks of incompetency or incapacitation, and how trusts can aid in asset protection for you and your beneficiaries.
We also work with families after the death of a loved one to implement estate plans and ensure the wishes of the person who has passed are upheld. Estate planning and probate go hand in hand to plan for and transfer assets to take care of family and friends. We are here to help our clients in every stage of their lives.
Wills & Trusts
Working with an attorney to draft your will ensures all elements are thoroughly and carefully taken into consideration. A will should include every detail: who receives guardianship of your children, what happens to your business, how your assets are to be distributed, what charitable contributions should be made, and more. Additionally, an attorney can help create a trust or modify the management of trust assets to ensure that the intended purpose, whether it is asset protection or control, is carried out. Setting up trusts can ensure assets are properly managed for beneficiaries too young to make decisions for themselves, as well as protect against estate tax implications.
When a person passes away, all of the person’s property is still listed in his or her name. This is particularly a problem when it is the person’s vehicle, real property and bank accounts. Probate administration exists to ensure that those assets are properly transferred to family members under state law or to beneficiaries named in a Will. Texas allows for a process called Independent Administration, where the person appointed to manage the estate of the deceased person by the Court (often referred to as the executor or administrator) can marshal the assets, pay the debts of the estate and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries with minimal court supervision. This process makes probate quick and efficient following a death and allows property to be properly retitled in the new owners names. Throughout the process, our probate lawyers assist the executor or administrator of the estate in the assessment and payment of any debts, followed by the distribution of any remaining assets to the designated rightful heirs and beneficiaries so our clients can have peace of mind and know that everything has been taken care of.
Powers of Attorney
Designating a family member or friend as agent under your power of attorney provides them the legal authority to act on your behalf. There are numerous options in creating a power of attorney and these documents can be used to provide authority, if selected, over financial, medical, and legal matters. An experienced estate planning lawyer can draft a customized power of attorney instrument, creating specific limits or contingencies on the agent’s legal authority to fit the particular situation.
Elder Law Considerations / Medicaid Planning
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, any single American currently over the age of 65 has a 66% chance of needing long-term care at some point in the future. Keeping this in mind, planning for your later years is crucial. This includes designating an agent to act under your power of attorney should you become physically or mentally unable to make decisions for yourself, establishing a living will or advance directive stating your wishes for end-of-life medical care, and assessing if and when applying for Medicaid may be necessary. Our attorneys can help walk though these considerations and help title assets so that you can have peace of mind in what the future holds and so that you can qualify for Medicaid sooner rather than later.
Guardianship / Special Needs Trusts
If you have children under the age of 18, you should select one or more individuals to serve as guardian of your minor children in the event something were to happen to you. Planning for a guardian looks very different in the event you are dealing with a child or person with special needs. If your child or other family member for whom you are the primary guardian or caregiver has special needs, additional steps should be taken to ensure their care continues after your death. Our attorneys take pride in ensuring that our clients with dependents with special needs take steps to ensure that their dependents stay qualified for government benefits, if any, and are able to still inherit from their family or have funds of their own. This may include a special needs trust, the creation of a guardianship, a letter of intent, and any other documentation that would assist future caregivers.
To protect your assets against creditors, changing tax regulations, litigation attempts, and more, you will need to review your finances and risk elements to make an affirmative plan. This may include recommendations for entity formation (corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership, etc.) for any businesses you may own or expanding your insurance coverage.
How MehaffyWeber Can Help
Our estate planning and probate lawyers offer a full range of legal services to our clients. To start your estate planning today, contact one of our lawyers and schedule an appointment.