Why You Should Never Buy Your Will From Living Social or Groupon

Of the handful of major life events that require your serious consideration, few are as emotionally charged as how to leave your assets for loved ones at the time of your death. This often complex process is accomplished via testamentary documents such as wills and trusts, which have recently become available for purchase online as standard forms.

The assets you have acquired during your life and the ways that you own them are often far more complex than a standard legal document or online service can anticipate.  When you make that all important decision to create a will or put your assets into a trust, you need an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you so that your wishes for life and death can be carried out without risk of your family getting stuck in court or conflict, when it’s too late.

Your incapacity or death will be an emotional time for your family. During this time, they need guidance, not a set of documents, which may not have even been kept up to date or adequately cover after-acquired assets.

In certain cases such as being married multiple times, having minor children, or owning a small business, legal assistance is especially necessary.

There may also be a variety different tax or asset protection implications for your inheritors. The right lawyer can advise you on the best way to handle the different assets you own such as real estate, investments, a small business, or personal property.

Is a trust right for your situation? Is there a way to transfer an asset before you pass, so that it will be protected from claims, creditors or taxation? Groupon can’t help you with that.

You may save money initially if you have a simple, small estate with few assets by just using a form that you find online. However, if you become incapacitated before death, your family could get stuck with a long drawn out court process, as they attempt to get control of your financial assets. And, if your document is unclear, contestable, or wholly or partially invalid, it’s your family who will be paying the price down the road.

Speak with a licensed Estate Attorney to create an estate plan that protects you and your loved ones.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and find out how to better protect your family.

 

Ask These 5 Questions Before Gifting Assets

Gifting assets can be a useful estate planning tool if you need to reduce your estate tax bill or for long-term care planning purposes.  However, you need to be sure that your gift does not cause any unforeseen problems for you or the person receiving your gift.

Here are five questions you should ask yourself before gifting:

Why is the gift being made?  Are you making a gift out of love or is there some estate planning goal you are trying to reach?  If it’s the latter, you need to be sure that the transfer of assets will be beneficial to you and your recipient.  For example, if you are counting on Medicaid to pay for some of your long-term care, a gift could trigger up to five years of ineligibility unless handled correctly. Contact us or your own personal lawyer to evaluate your options.

Are you keeping enough for your needs?  If you are making a large gift, you will need to do some long-term financial planning to ensure your gift does not compromise your future needs.

Are you expecting repayment?  If your gift comes with an expectation on your part that you will be repaid, be sure your recipient understands that the gift is coming with these strings attached.  Execute a promissory note so all parties are clear on the terms of your gift.

Are you expecting something else in return?  If you are gifting property with the expectation that you will be allowed to live there, or gifting assets for someone else to hold for you, you should consider using a trust for these purposes instead.  If you don’t, the recipient is legally in control of the gift and if they don’t do what you want with it — or worse, your assets become entangled in a divorce or bankruptcy — this could cause huge problems for you.

Will the recipient benefit from your gift?  If your recipient has special needs, a gift could disqualify them from receiving important benefits.  If he or she has financial or other problems like alcohol or drug dependency issues, the gift could be detrimental.

One of the best ways for you to gift assets is through a Wealth Creation Trust, which allows you to decide the best time for children or grandchildren to receive your gift and gives them the necessary time and experience to learn how to protect and grow the assets in the trust for future generations.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

 

6 Cases When a Trust Is Better Than a Will in Texas

A will is one of the most basic Texas estate planning documents, and everyone should have one to make sure that there is no question about what would happen to your assets and kids if something happens to you.  But there are some cases when having a trust in addition to a will is imperative; here are six of them:

Avoiding probate or conservatorship.  A trust will bypass the probate process, saving the people you love time and money.  To carry out instructions in a will, a probate must be opened in the county court of Texas and that means your family is stuck dealing with the Court if you get hospitalized or after you die.

Providing for a person with special needs.  If you have a child or another dependent with special needs, a trust commonly known as a Special Needs Trust can protect assets for a special needs person without jeopardizing their qualification for government benefits.  A will allows you to transfer assets to a special needs person, but will not protect those assets.

Privacy.  Since a will undergoes probate in Texas, it becomes public record.  A trust is private.

Blended families.  If you are part of a blended family, a trust can give you the flexibility you will want to make sure that children from prior marriages are provided for in the way you want.

Out-of-state property.  If you own property in another state besides Texas, you can more easily transfer ownership via a trust than a will.  Transferring out-of-state property in a will usually means additional legal expenses because you could have probate in multiple states and that is no fund for the people you love.

Asset protection.  If you want to protect the assets you leave your loved ones from creditors (including bankruptcy and divorce) a trust is the way to do it. It’s a gift you can give your loved ones that they could not easily (or at all) give themselves.

If you would like to learn more about the use of trusts in Texas to pass on what you care about to the people you love, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.