SEVEN FINANCIAL MISTAKES HOUSTON ESTATE PLANNING LAWYERS SEE

Estate planning lawyers are in the business of helping their clients create the best financial strategy possible, not just for their heirs, but for themselves, as well. Setting yourself up for retirement or to simply live the lifestyle you want takes some effort, which is why so many people make the choice to work with a Houston estate planning lawyer who knows the ins and outs of putting together an effective route for success.

There is a ton of information out there on what to do and what not to do, but a recent survey from Consumer Reports has offered a really good look into the most common financial mistakes that are made, potentially keeping people from creating their nest egg, protecting their assets, and so on.

Take a look at this list and make sure that you are not falling into the same trap that so many others have. If you need some guidance and direction, talk to a reputable Houston estate planning attorney to turn things around before it is too late.

The 7 Most Common Financial Mistakes

1. Emergency fund – Building an emergency fund can seem overwhelming, but it is an important part of protecting what you have. Three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside will make all the difference if you suddenly lose your job or are otherwise unable to earn your regular salary. The emergency fund will keep you from living off of credit and starting that downward spiral.

2. Credit Reports – Credit reports wield a lot of power, from what home you can buy to what job you can get. Unfortunately, they often include errors, and it is up to you as a consumer to identify and fix the errors. You will not know if someone else’s mistake is harming you unless you take the time to review your report.

3. Reviewing the will – If you have already made your will, then good for you! (If not, please work with an estate planning lawyer in Houston to get this important task off your to-do list.) Unfortunately, even those who are responsible enough to get their affairs in order this way often overlook the importance of reviewing the will. An annual review allows you to make revisions based on life changes, including updating your beneficiaries.

4. Communicating with family – Once you have put together a plan with your Houston estate planning lawyer, it is imperative to make sure your family knows how to access it when the time comes. Whether you have stashed it in a safe deposit box or kept it with a lawyer or trusted individual, you will want your family to be able to find it to carry out your wishes.

5. 401(k) mishaps – Those who do not remember to review their 401(k) plans can miss out on a lot of opportunities. You want to make sure that you are making your contribution and that if your employer matches it, you are taking advantage of that. As with the will, you will also want to occasionally update your beneficiaries.

6. Homeowner’s insurance – Homeowner’s insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, but if something catastrophic happens, it is your safety net. Imagine trying to replace everything you have worked so hard for with no funds to do so!

7. Debt – Debt is a beast that scares people to the point of not even seeking the help of an estate planning attorney in Houston. Allowing it to get out of hand, however, can have a disastrous impact on your financial life.

Just because you have had trouble in any of these areas does not mean that it is too far-gone to be fixed. A Houston estate planning attorney can help you develop a strategy for getting back on track. For a free consultation at our Houston estate planning law firm, simply call our office at (281) 218-0880 and mention this article.

NEW TEXAS FAMILY LAWS AFFECT CHILD SUPPORT

If you are paying or receiving child support within the Texas Family Code, a recent amendment to the law may increase the amount you pay or receive.

Beginning Sept. 1, 2013, the Texas child support guidelines “cap” has increased from $7,500 to $8,550. The first increase in 6 years, this hike was based on a 13.9 percent raise in the Consumer Price Index since 2007. Basically, it was time to increase the cap to account for inflation and the increased cost of living that all of us are facing.

Regardless of how the numbers were crunched, the real question is: How does this change affect me and my family? Let me explain.

Let’s say, for instance, a parent who pays child support earns $15,000 each month. Prior to Sept. 1, 2013 only $7,500 of that total amount was taken into consideration by the court when figuring out how much child support needs to be paid. Now, with the new law in effect, an additional $1,050 is counted, which means the parent receiving the child support should be entitled to higher child support.

Just because the law went into effect does not mean your child support has been automatically recalculated and increased, however. Whether you are paying or receiving, the amount will not change unless one party specifically requests the adjustment, or modification, and — of course — the court orders the modification.

A child support calculator can give you an idea of how much your child support will increase, but a Houston family law attorney can really assess your individual case to ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount.

Schedule a complimentary consultation with our office by calling (281) 218-0880 and mentioning this article.


More Changes in Child Support

The net resource cap is not the only amendment to child support laws in the Texas Family Code. Here are a couple more bills that also went into effect on Sept. 1.

CSHB 154 addresses the issue of mistaken paternity. This bill allows a man up to two years to file a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship, if he finds out the child is not genetically his and end his child support obligation going forward.

CSHB 3017 clarifies the income allowed to be counted when determining child support by including veterans’ benefits in the available pool of income.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF TRUST WITH YOUR WILLS AND TRUSTS LAWYER IN HOUSTON TEXAS

Topics surrounding wills and trusts can be quite complicated, which is why a qualified Texas lawyer is pretty much your best bet for creating a plan that meets your real needs. While this lawyer will be knowledgeable about laws and regulations that you will unlikely be so well-versed in, there is still plenty for you to get to know about setting up a trust.

There are several factors that affect the trust, from its value to the kind of trust that is best to meet specific needs. When meeting with a wills and trusts lawyer, you will go more in-depth into these factors in order to make good decisions for the future of your estate. Here are some of those considerations:

Value

“Value” is a bit hard to nail down, as the “value” of various assets can change on a nearly daily basis. Still, the overall size of an estate can be partially determined by the assets it holds. Those with more assets will likely be best served by a different type of trust than those with modest assets. The types of assets can also come into play, as some are more easily turned into cash than others, while some are more likely to appreciate in value than others.

Time

How much time will your trust have before it is used for its intended purpose? Along those same lines, how long will it be used? Will all of the assets be disbursed right away, or will it be used to fund a particular cause for years to come? A wills and trusts lawyer in Houston can help you create a trust that will grow, setting goals based upon your current age and your plans for the assets of the trust down the road.

Purpose

We have already touched on the purpose of your trust, but there is far more to consider than whether or not you want to contribute to a new wing to the local library. Instead, wills and trusts lawyers in Houston work to help you create tools that protect your wealth so it can be utilized by your family and loved ones in the way you see fit. One of the common ways of doing this is to protect your assets from being taxed at a higher rate than they would be if they weren’t part of a trust.

This is, of course, a simplistic overview of jus t a few of the variables that you and a wills and trusts lawyer in Houston will want to consider when putting together a plan for your own future. In addition to getting the wheels in motion, you will also want to make sure you follow up on the details. If your trust will be funded by specific accounts or insurance policies, for example, you need to make sure you have set this up appropriately with each individual account or policy. Again, a knowledgeable Houston wills and trusts lawyer will make all the difference in ensuring your success.

BUSINESS PLANNING LAWYERS IN HOUSTON RECOMMEND ESTATE PLANNING

A small business is a part of your identity, not to mention your livelihood. Business planning lawyers in Houston look to protect both aspects of this should you die or become incapacitated. Advanced planning is one of the smartest things that you can do to ensure that your small business meets the goals you have for it, whether you are at the helm or not.

•· Make sure that your wishes are followed

•· Ease transition for the company

•· Protect the business from being dismantled

•· Save considerable money

When you think of your estate, you would probably include your home, your personal assets, and your bank accounts. But your small business is also considered as part of your estate, even though you likely don’t want it to be treated the same way as the other property already mentioned. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and a Houston business planning lawyer is the perfect person to consult.

There are several things you’ll want to consider, and your attorney can help you draw up documents that are legal and binding according to state laws. For example:

•· Do you want the business to keep running after you pass away?

•· If so, who should be in charge?

•· What happens to your shares in a business?

•· Do partners need to buy your family out of the business or does ownership transfer to one of these parties?

You will also want to have your lawyer explain the various tax implications that come along with your different options. It’s not unusual for a small business to implode after an owner’s death, not because there was no one to take over, but because the estate taxesjust take so much that there’s not enough left to continue operations.

Advanced planning for your business can help avoid this type of huge tax burden. Specific sections of the tax codes have been designed to assist with the transition of businesses by limiting the taxes on heirs’ stock or to pay estate taxes over the course of 15 years. These two seemingly small things can make the difference between keeping the doors open or shutting down.

To get the most out of the tax codes that have been put into effect for folks like you, there is nothing quite as helpful as meeting with a qualifiedbusiness planning lawyer in the Houston area. To get started, simply call our office at (832) 224-2613 to schedule a complimentary Legacy Planning Session.