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Estate planning consideration for snowbirds

After people in Texas retire, they find that they have a great deal more flexibility in their life -- including where they choose to live. Rather than starting over completely new, some people opt to become so-called "snowbirds." Snowbirds are people who divide their time between two or more locations, often in an effort to avoid extreme weather. While a satisfying arrangement for many, it can create additional complications for estate planning.

People who live in multiple locations often own property in different states. In some cases, they may have bank accounts and vehicles registered in different states. Regardless of their presence, however, one location is considered their legal residence. Which state is considered a legal residence may have an impact on a person's estate.

Guarding against successful incompetency claim in estate planning

As people in Texas age, they start to think about how they would like their estates distributed after they pass away.  Many choose to work with an experienced estate planning professional to make sure their wishes are honored. Despite their efforts, some family members may choose to challenge an estate plan. As a result, many professionals offer advice that can either potentially dissuade a person from issuing a challenge or safeguard an estate if a plan is challenged.  

In some cases, a person who has been disinherited may be financially motivated to challenge an estate. While some people creating a will or other estate planning documents may want to send a message by leaving a token amount, such as $5, many professionals recommend against this action. Instead of completely disinheriting the person or leaving a token amount, some professionals advise leaving the person a sum sufficient enough to prevent him or her from challenging the estate to prevent the risk of losing what was left. 

The purpose of a guardianship in Texas

Life is often unexpected. A person in Texas who may be perfectly healthy one day may be involved in a car accident or suffer an unexpected medical condition that leaves him or her unable to make decisions. As a result, he or she may become part of a guardianship.

A person who is named as a guardian can make important decisions for his or her ward. If the person who is disabled or incapacitated has not created a durable power of attorney, the court will appoint someone to serve in that position. A guardian can help ensure that a ward's estate does not accrue excessive liabilities during the time of incapacitation.

The value of a will, estate planning in Texas

Families in Texas and across the country are complex. Many include loved ones who are not biologically related, while others may not have a strong relationship with those who are considered kin. As a result, having a will in place can ensure that a person's wishes are met following his or her death rather than having the state make decisions regarding guardianship of children or distribution of assets based on biological ties.

A will serves a variety of functions. In addition to detailing how a person's assets will be divided, it also details guardianship. In some situations, parents prefer to leave their children in the care of a close friend as opposed to a family member. However, without a will in place, the parent's wishes may be unknown or ignored.

Guardian: A single word with many forms under Texas law

So, you are a relatively healthy adult in Houston. Maybe you have family, siblings or children. Maybe you don't. What difference does it make? You're healthy and you are fully capable of dealing with the day-to-day issues that we all confront. But what if all that changes?

It can happen suddenly. One minute, you may be driving down a busy downtown street. Out of nowhere, another vehicle t-bone's you and you suffer a traumatic brain injury. Less sudden, but no less catastrophic, you develop a degenerative neuromuscular disease and you slide into a state of incapacitation. If you don't have bases covered in your will or through a trust, appointing of a guardian may be required.

What if toxic pollution erodes value of bequeathed assets?

The best-laid plans can be messed up by things not anticipated. This is something about which skilled estate planning attorneys in Texas are aware. Estate planning actions taken with all good intention can lead to some very unsettling family conflict if proper care isn't taken. What's most unfortunate is that oftentimes the issue doesn't surface until after the person making the bequest has died and the estate is in probate.

A scenario out of California is what brings this issue to the fore for this entry on our blog. On the face of things, everything seemed straightforward. An elderly couple with three sons decided to will three parcels of land to their offspring. The belief was that each of the properties was about equal in value. But in the course of the planning process, they learned that one site might be chemically contaminated and need cleanup. Talk about your devaluation.

Divorce and estate plans can clash without due diligence

Life can be complicated. It's common for people in Houston and the rest of Texas to do all they can to avoid problems. For many, this means denial and not undertaking the process of estate planning. For others, it means taking the step to draft a will but not going whole hog on a comprehensive plan.

Depending on your particular circumstances, doing the minimum might be all that is required. It can be easy to act and then put it out of your mind. However, to paraphrase a common idiom, life happens. When it does, perhaps you make some adjustments in your plan. If you don't cover all your bases, however, life can hit the fan.

Is LTC insurance costing so much as to be put out of reach?

Last week we offered perspective on the value of long-term care insurance. The reality is that everyone in Texas is getting older and the expectation of many experts is that extended stays in assisted living or nursing homes are not so much a possibility as a probability for many of us. In that light we noted that many experts agree that having LTC insurance is a wise idea.

There are many reasons someone might not be able to get their hands on an LTC policy, however. If they come to the market late in life, such as when they are on the brink of retirement, many companies become risk averse. As important as including LTC coverage as part of a broad estate planning strategy may be, it doesn't do much good if no one will sell you the product.

Is it worth getting Long-Term Care Insurance?

There is a cost to getting older. It is inevitable. The vigor most of us in Texas enjoy through most of our lives doesn't usually last to our dying day. For some the decline can be sudden. For others, issues related to aging can strike relatively early and last for years.

Private insurance can help cover some of the costs with a properly structured policy. Medicare and Medicaid will help, but only so far. Long-term insurance is available, but a lot of insurers have stopped selling the product. When it's available, it can be expensive and rates just seem to be going higher. You have to ask if it's worth it.

Deadline could be looming for 1 popular family trust tool

Have you ever heard of a family limited partnership or family limited liability company? Forgive yourself if you haven't. If you have and you're among those in Texas who have thought about setting up an entity using one of these trusts as part of a comprehensive estate plan, you will want to read further.

Those with experience in this area of law know that these vehicles have been used for quite some time as a way to reduce taxes. However, the Treasury Department recently announced its intention to change the rules to make them less beneficial. The reason for the action, officials say, is abuse by wealthy families that has cost the government millions in revenue.

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