Wills Archives

Estate planning may be needed for bequests and lifetime gifts

Estate planning in Texas and all other states includes determining how much you can give away in gifts at your death and how much you can gift during life without incurring federal tax consequences. For estate planning purposes, the federal estate tax now exempts $5.43 million in bequests that a person can give to others upon his or her death. For a married couple, it is the total of each spouse's $5.43 million that is  ultimately available. One spouse can bequest his or her unused portion of the exemption to the surviving spouse.

Estate planning may help to avoid probate expenses

If having your assets pass to your beneficiaries in a smooth and inexpensive  procedure is important to you, then estate planning should be conducted now while you are healthy and fully competent to sign the documents. In some cases, probate can be avoided by estate planning that sets up living trusts. The owner turns over and transfers title of designated assets to the living trust, to be administered by the trustee. In Texas and other states, living trusts become the recipients of some or all your assets during your own lifetime.

Estate planning means much more than just preparing for taxes

Many residents of Texas and people living throughout the country are not worried about the federal estate tax these days. For example, a married couple can exempt up to the first $10,680,000 in assets from the tax. It's roughly half that amount for a single person. However, the need to do estate planning is not lessened just because your estate may not be exposed to a federal estate tax at death.

Estate planning gives satisfaction of providing for loved ones

Estate planning is an important contribution to the peace of mind of those in Texas and elsewhere who go through the process. People have a feeling of relief knowing that their loved ones will receive their assets unimpeded by intrusive rules or burdensome taxes. Estate planning goes hand-in-hand with long-term care planning, which is basically the setting up in advance of certain protections that will serve to preserve assets for your loved ones if you have to enter a nursing home or for long-term homecare.   

Estate planning assures one's wishes for asset distribution

In Texas and elsewhere, estate planning gives a person the ability to designate the details of how his or her assets will be distributed, both during life and after the person's death. If estate planning is not implemented during the person's lifetime, then the laws of the state of residence will govern the details of distribution. The state intestate statutes will specify the persons to whom distribution is to be made and the percentages due to each category of statutory heirs.

Carefully choose the agents named in estate planning documents

Whether you reside in Texas or elsewhere, the legal documents that are prepared for estate planning usually require designating your representative, who will administer the duties set forth in each particular legal directive. Thus, a will requires an executor, and a power of attorney requires the appointment of your agent who will exercise the power. A trust requires a trustee to administer the funds. However, for some people the choice of representatives in estate planning can be somewhat problematic.

Several mistakes to avoid when developing wills

People typically prefer to avoid discussing difficult topics, such as death and creating a will. However, wills are essential for protecting family members in the event of one's death. With a will, a person can make sure that his or her minor kids will be cared for and that loved ones get the assets he or she wants them to have. Several mistakes are important to avoid as far as estate planning is concerned in Texas.

Estate planning helpful for those with or without children

A person who has children typically plans to pass assets on to the kids upon his or her death. This can easily be achieved through the estate planning process. The question for those who don't have children, however, is who will end up getting their assets and valuables when they die. Even more planning and thought is often necessary for these individuals in Texas.

Celebrities' heirs suffer when estate planning is neglected

A recent article in Forbes discusses a television series on the Reelz channel called Celebrity Legacies. Shown nationally, including in Texas, the cable series delves into the details surrounding a deceased celebrity’s estate. Other than the sheer attraction that many people have to the lives and deaths of celebrities, the series also gives us a chance to see where we may have gone right or wrong in our own estate planning activities.

Estate planning results in legal protections for the maker

An estate plan is a person's program for the maintenance and distribution of assets, both during life and at death. Estate planning is the process of making an estate plan. The process, and the legal "instruments" representing separate components of the plan, are generally similar in Texas and all other states. There are, however, some deviations in the details, procedures, tax obligations and the terminology from state to state.

Contact Kolb & Murray, P.C., at 830-386-4801 to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced law firm devoted to serving you, your family and your business.

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