Tag: estate planning

Estate Planning for Women | Houston Will and Trust Lawyer

Houston will and trust lawyers recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate plans.  Every situation is different, and each person needs individualized attention.  While there are services that offer cookie-cutter forms that will supposedly allow you to set up a decent plan, there is no comparison to working with an actual estate planning attorney who can work with human understanding to meet your real needs.

For example, the needs of women have been changing dramatically over the past several years.  Gone are the days when a woman was expected to stay home and live on an “allowance” if her husband chose to give her one.  Instead, so many women today have their own jobs, their own finances, and their own desire to protect their assets.

Older Women and Widows

Statistics show us that women typically live longer than men. So, in the case where the couple created an estate plan while both were living, once the husband passes away, she will need to update it since the widow has an entirely new set of needs.  She needs to make sure that her estate is able to support her as costs continue to rise, as well as to determine what she would like to have happen to her assets after her own death.  She may even need assistance to understand the estate and how to handle the finances.  This is especially true and frightening for the woman who has never handled the finances.

Younger Women

There are plenty of reasons that a younger woman needs to meet with a Houston will and trust lawyer. In the case of a single mother, nominating a guardian for her kids is critical in case of the mother’s death or incapacitation.  If a guardian is not legally named, the courts will step in and choose a guardian for the child without taking the mother’s wishes into consideration. An estate planning attorney may also advise younger mothers to consider setting up a trust for their child(ren) and maybe even to look into life insurance policies that could be used to fund the child(ren)’s future.

Whether married or not, many younger women have careers and would benefit from retirement planning in this earlier stage of life.  By being proactive early on, a woman can set up her 401k and other accounts to make sure she realizes her long-term financial goals.  Looking to retire young, to pay for your kids’ college, or to travel the world?  A Houston will and trust lawyer can help put things in motion now to make that a reality later.

If you have a significant other in your life, it makes sense for the two of you to work together with the estate planning attorney to make sure that your goals align and that your plans are compatible.  Your attorney can help you properly deal with “his, hers, and ours” to ensure that your assets are titled properly and that your financial house together is built on a solid foundation.

We have years of experience helping women in Houston plan for their future. If you are ready to get started, call our office at (281) 218-0880 and schedule a free consultation.

Who Needs to Consider Trusts for their Children in Houston?

There are a lot of reasons to consider setting up trusts for your children, but trust and estates lawyers in Houston see far too many cases where this just is not done.  One of the biggest reasons for not setting up a trust could be that you feel you do not have enough assets to warrant one.  We hear about “trust fund babies” and automatically think of the super wealthy, not regular folks like ourselves.

Really, though, even those in the middle class should be thinking about setting up trusts for their children.  Even if you do not have a lot of extra money lying around, you have other assets that can quickly add up in value.  Add to that the payout from a life insurance policy, and you suddenly realize that you have quite a bit of financial worth that might be left behind to children who are not ready to handle it.  Anything more than about $100,000 is reasonable to consider putting into a trust for children.

What Does the Trust Do?

When you set up a trust with your trust and estates lawyer in Houston, you will discover that there are many different ways to use this tool.  One of the most important benefits of a trust is that it allows you to stipulate how your children will use the money you leave behind.  If your intention is for your kids to use the money for college, but they want to use it to buy a sports car instead, what is to stop them?

In your case, the trust is what can stop them.  You can implement restrictions on how the money is spent.  You can, for example, determine that the funds in the trust are designated for specific functions, such as paying for education or day-to-day expenses.  In some cases, there is a designated adult to help keep things on track, although this person must be chosen wisely.  In other cases, the parent sets age limits on the trust, assuring that the children do not have access to the money until they have more time to mature.

Protecting the Trust

Another reason to consider a trust is to protect your children’s money from misuse by the adult in charge of the funds.  In the case of a “custodial” account, the person in charge can have a lot more say in how the money is spent.  This could translate into frivolous expenses, including paying himself or herself an unrealistic amount to “manage” the funds.  With a trust, however, the person in charge (the “trustee”) is held more accountable and is required to follow your wishes.

If the trustee does manage the funds poorly, it is also possible that your child would have some legal recourse, as the trust is a legal contract.

Talk to a Houston Trust and Estates Lawyer

The best way to determine if a trust is right for you and family is to talk to a Houston trust and estates lawyer.  Our attorneys are available to sit down with you to review your estate plan and consider how a trust or other estate planning tools can best meet your needs.  To schedule a planning session, call us at (281) 218-0880 and mention this article.

Houston Will Lawyer: Estate Planning Is About Creating Your Legacy

As a Houston will lawyer, I would like to talk to you today about one of the most overlooked aspects of estate planning – the opportunity to create your legacy.

Believe it or not, creating a legacy is not all about having libraries and hospitals named after you. There are great ways that you can help your family remember your values and beliefs that will cost you little to nothing.

A very thoughtful (and completely free) way to create your legacy is to write annual letters to your children and other important people in your life.  These letters can be kept with your estate planning documents.  Then, each person will have a special message sharing your feelings and thoughts.

The letters do not have to be held back until your death, either. Many people choose to present the letters to their children upon graduation or on their wedding days.  Estate planning certainly deals with death, but it also gives us a reason to think about life and the way we want to live it.

Another way to create a legacy is to determine important causes in your life and then support them through your estate planning. Whether you are an avid contributor to the American Cancer Society or you have a soft spot for a local animal shelter, these are the kinds of non-profits and charities you can support to ensure your values are represented in your planning.

Many nonprofit organizations will happily work with you to put together some kind of a giving plan for your estate.  There may be tax benefits in addition to knowing that you are doing something important for the world.

A Houston will lawyer can also help you with setting up a family trust that can be used to further causes that you or your loved ones are passionate about.  This is a great way to build a legacy, not just for yourself, but for your entire family.  If you are unsure of how or why you should set up a family trust to create your legacy, definitely take the time to meet with a qualified estate planning lawyer.  He or she will likely have many other suggestions for ways to use your planning in order to help build your legacy.

Houston Estate Lawyer: 3 Talking Points to Help Your Reluctant Spouse Get Serious About Estate Planning

Need help motivating your spouse to meet with a Houston Estate lawyer?  In my experience, I have found that the planning process is usually initiated by one spouse and is often met with hesitation by the other. It is understandable why one or both spouses would be reluctant to meet with an estate planner. Thinking about our death is scary, and many people will avoid any attempt to broach the subject.

Unfortunately, while we stick our heads in the sand, life continues to happen, and our need to create an estate plan does not lessen. But you know that, right? So, below I have laid out the top three excuses I hear, as well as a few quick talking points that you can use to help your spouse understand the necessity of planning for the future.

  1. We have plenty of time to deal with this…” is the most common objection to creating an estate plan. Most people want to wait until later in life before creating an estate plan, but this is a mistake. As you know, tragedy can strike at any time. People also mistakenly believe that they only need an estate plan if they have a great fortune. Estate planning is much more than dividing your assets. With an estate plan, you can can ensure that there are guardians named who can care for your kids if you die while they are still young, or appoint someone you trust to make financial or medical decisions if you are incapacitated.
  1. “If something happens to me, you (the spouse) will inherit everything anyway…” is another common excuse you might hear to avoid creating an estate plan. While the spouse will inherit the majority of the estate, this is not a good reason for not creating an estate plan. What if something happens to both partners? If you have children, who do you want to raise your them if something happens? With an estate plan, you can make your wishes known and avoid long and costly custody battles for your loved ones. If you are on a second marriage, then you won’t inherit without a plan.
  1. If all else fails, you can remind your spouse that you, in fact, already have an estate plan. You have the default estate plan created by the state of Texas, and the state does not take any of your wishes into consideration. The process of settling one’s estate through the courts is long, expensive, and stressful for your loved ones. With an estate plan, this can all be avoided. Children of second marriages are usually disinherited.

There are many more advantages to be gained from creating an estate plan and absolutely no advantages for doing nothing. An estate lawyer in Houston will be able to create a plan that is right for you and will never pressure you to into doing anything before you are really ready. Call our office today to start this difficult, but necessary, conversation.