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Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

What exactly is a guardianship? When is it necessary?

When learning about guardianship, the first thing to know about is proper terminology. Many people use the terms guardianship and conservatorship interchangeably, and in some states conservatorship is the proper term. Under Texas law, the correct term is guardianship

When someone is incapable of making their own decisions, either due to a minor age or incapacity, a court can appoint an individual to do this for him or her. The appointed person is called the guardian and the minor child or incapacitated adult is called the ward. A guardian can be appointed to make decisions on behalf of the ward, the ward's estate or both.

Estate planning: getting it done right, and timely revisiting it

Do you know what a pour-over will is and how creation of such a document might benefit your estate planning needs?

Are you aware of the privacy considerations afforded by a revocable trust as opposed to a will, and how they affect probate considerations?

Do you fully understand all the reasons why it is just as important to periodically revisit and adjust estate planning documents as it was to have drafted them in the first place?

Are you aware that your will and one or more trusts might not comprehensively deal with all your expectations regarding inheritances for loved ones?

Special estate planning considerations in the Internet Age

Perhaps you’ve always been a careful and meticulous person, timely attending to all relevant aspects of your personal life in order to enhance predictability and certainty.

In the realm of estate planning, that implies many things. For starters, it means that you thought carefully about drafting a will and then followed through on that intent. To be truly effective as envisioned, this important planning document must be specifically tailored to all important facets of your life. Moreover, it must be void of stale information that no longer makes sense in light of circumstances that changed over time, and in conformance with legal requirements regarding drafting and execution.

For many people in Texas and elsewhere, of course, effective planning goes far beyond a will. It can also entail the careful crafting of one or more trusts, close attention paid to health care matters and long-term care planning and additional issues.

Wealth doesn't dictate whether you need an estate plan or not

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about how estate planning is something that needs to be done earlier in life, not later. We discussed some of the reasons why this is, and it really is important for all younger people to realize that even though you may not have as many assets as someone 10 or 20 years your senior, you still need an estate plan for the things you do have. A freak accident could claim your life, and without an estate plan, the things you do have won't be protected in ways offered by an estate plan.

Along the same lines, it is important for people to realize that an estate plan isn't just for the wealthy. It may seem that way -- estate plans are often portrayed as ways for rich people to shield assets. However, this is just a stereotype and it does not reflect the true importance of an estate plan.

Houston judge to decide on baseball owners estate tax case

No one wants their family members to have to deal with legal complications after they pass away. That's why so many people here in Texas and across the nation are so meticulous about their estate plans. Making sure that everything is handled properly and all applicable laws are followed is the best way to avoid legal messes that can arise after you're gone.

But sometimes even the best laid estate plans can run into speed bumps, especially when parties argue over the contents of the estate. We can see this exemplified by the high-profile case involving the family of the late Carl Pohland, former owner of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Estate administration: Plan now, when you can see clearly ahead

“[B]etter late than never” is an adage that does not apply to estate planning.

So notes a writer in an estate planning article from Forbes that focuses on the essentials and provides some meaningful tips for people who have thought about but not implemented a solid plan to provide for their future.

In millions of cases across the country, that future of course encompasses loved ones. Perhaps they are contemplated in an asset-transfer scheme. Maybe one or more family members have special needs that need to be purposefully addressed through specific estate planning instruments. Perhaps there are children from multiple marriages that must be considered.

When should you update your Will?

One of the basic documents that can be crucial in estate planning is a will. Wills allow a person to express his or wishes for how property and other assets should be distributed after death. 

Preparing your will can be difficult; it may be uncomfortable to make these types of plans and it can be a complicated legal process that ends up overwhelming people. However, those who have a will in place know that it can be a great source of relief to know that your wishes are expressed and your loved ones will be taken care of. However, updating your will can be essential in making sure the terms and allowances stay relevant over time. 

Boomer focus: taking action on long-term care planning

The baby-boomer generation is filled with hard-working planners. But they often neglect one important aspect of their estate and retirement planning: long-term care.

With the coupling of today's spiraling health care costs and an aging demographic group that is seeing high numbers of its members living to truly advanced ages, money pegged for health care is truly a bigger issue for millions than it has ever been before.

Special needs trust: a potentially invaluable legal instrument

The parameters of a so-called "special needs" trust are somewhat implicit in its terms. That is, this highly specialized estate planning instrument helps provide for the singular needs of a family member who needs some assistance.

That need for assistance is most commonly seen in the realm of finances or daily care, with the beneficiary of a special needs trust most often requiring help with money matters or assistance targeted toward alleviating the effects of a limiting disability.

Of course, that can certainly be promoted through a will inheritance, direct cash transfers and other forms of wealth distribution, but families who are acting out of love often employ their hearts more than their heads.

Is acceptance into the Medicaid program guaranteed?

Many Americans, including some Texas residents, are a bit unclear on the details of government programs centrally involved in the administration of long-term care for elderly persons.

For example, it is certainly not uncommon for people in many instances to lack a full understanding of the differences between the Medicare and Medicaid programs that assist eligible Americans in various ways.

Some people believe, for example, that the Medicare program is the government initiative most closely tied to nursing home care.

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