Your estate is comprised of everything you own—your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and other personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate. With advanced planning, you can control which assets will be disposed of in accordance with your Will and which assets will be disposed of outside of probate. A majority of bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies will transfer ownership at death through payable on death designations (POD), joint tenancy with right of survivorship, or a designated beneficiary.
Creating an estate plan is the best method to control how your estate is distributed to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, your Will and Trust will detail who is and is not included, what real and personal property each person receives, and when your probate assets are distributed. Your estate plan should consider how to reduce the risk of a will contest and tax liability. An estate plan also includes creating a plan for who will handle your medical and financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
This Firm represents Executors and Administrators as he or she navigates the probate process. Each client’s facts and circumstances will be evaluated to determine which probate procedure in Texas is the best option to pursue: Small Estate Affidavit; Muniment of Title; Heirship Determination without Administration; Independent Administration; or Dependent Administration.
Although you are not required to probate, the person possessing the original Will must deliver the original Will to the Court Clerk. Failure to probate a Will within four years of the Decedent’s death reduces the probate options available and risks whether the named beneficiaries receive the gifts under the will.
To protect a loved one’s personal and financial interest, you may need more than the durable and medical power of attorney. A Guardianship of the person and/or estate provides Court authority to act on behalf of a loved one. A Guardianship procedure is a request that the court declare a loved one incapacitated to handle their personal and/or financial affairs. Clients pursue guardianship when a loved one has been victimized by fraud, theft, or undue influence, and when the incapacitated person is unable to safely care for himself. Frequenlty, a power of attorney can avoid the necessity of a guardianship. However, depending on the circumstances, obtaining a guardianship may by the only way to protect a loved one. It is common for the Ward (the incapacitated person) to lose the right to drive, vote in public elections, marry, and consent to medical treatment.
You can include any number of persons or charities to receive your probate estate in the terms of your Will. Unfortunately, a family member who is disinherited or receives a small share of the estate may also be motivated to challenge your Will. A Will contest may be based on allegations that the Will was not properly executed, or there was undue influence at the time the Will was signed. This firm is familiar with contesting and defending Wills and will be able to provide advice on the likelihood of success after evaluating your specific facts.
If you do not have long-term care insurance, you may find the cost of skilled nursing care is not affordable. This Firm assists clients in applying for Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care. Medicaid has strict guidelines on who is eligible for benefits. This Firm helps clients understand the eligibility rules for both married and single applicants. The Applicant’s spouse can qualify for a spousal allowance to retain assets and all or a portion of the family’s monthly income depending on the client’s facts. In general, each applicant may exempt one home, one vehicle, and a funeral policy. A review of the individual’s unique financial situation will identify potential eligibility roadblocks. This Firm also handles appeals when the Applicant receives a notice that the Applicant has been denied benefits by Medicaid. A timely filed appeal will preserve the initial requested eligibility date.