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Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

Probate implications of the same-sex marriage decision

As our readers have likely heard, last week, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal throughout the entire nation. This will have some major implications here in Texas, as Texas was one of the states that did not legally recognize such marriages. An important thing to note is that these implications are not limited to just the area of family law. The Supreme Court's decision has implications for many areas of law here in Texas, including estate planning and probate.

Estate planning can help with a wide range of things

One assumption some might make about estate planning is that estate planning is just about setting up who gets what stuff when you pass away. It is true that post-death asset distribution is one of the major things that wills and other estate planning documents typically touch on. It is also important to not underestimate how important having a clear plan in place regarding such distribution is. Having a well-tailored and legally enforceable plan for such distribution in one's estate plan can help make property distribution issues less complicated for one's family when one passes away and help ensure that the assets one worked so hard for during their life go where they would want upon their death.

Important role assignments in estate planning documents

Among the decisions that come before a person when estate planning is the decision of who to assign important roles to in one's estate plan. There are a variety of very important roles that can be assigned in estate planning documents and devices. We will now go over some examples of this.

In a will, a person can assign who their executor will be. An executor generally plays a very major role in the estate administration process.

A loved one is incapacitated. Will you be allowed to help?

An interesting question came up recently: What would persuade young millennials to begin discussions with their families about long-term care planning. Young people often still have their parents and their grandparents living, which sets up the expectation that older generations are in charge of these plans. So, if millennials don't have children of their own, estate planning and elder law don't come up all that often.

Until they do, of course. In a recent post to LifeHealthPro, a life and health insurance industry site, one woman of the millennial generation described what happened when her grandmother was hospitalized. 

What does the guardian appointment process involve?

There are many different things individuals may wonder about when it comes to guardianships in Texas. One is what the process of getting a guardian appointed for an individual who is unable to manage their own affairs generally entails. Today's post will be a general overview of this process.

We will start with how this process is kicked off. The process is started by an application for the appointment of a guardian being filed with a court. There are many different individuals that could potentially file such an application. Individuals who are wondering if they would be able to file such an application in relation to a loved one that they believe may need a guardian and what filing such an application would involve should consider bringing the questions they have to a guardianship attorney.  

Privacy concerns and trusts

There are many benefits that having trusts in one's estate plan can potentially have. One such benefit are privacy benefits. Trusts can sometimes provide a greater degree of financial privacy than other estate planning mechanisms.

However, there are things that can weaken a trust's privacy protection abilities. One is if litigation ends up arising in relation to a trust. This is because a lot of financial matters can potentially end up coming out into the open in court proceedings related to trust litigation.  

Helping families with heirship determinations

The probate process can sometimes be a confusing and complicated one for a family that has lost a loved one. It can be especially so when the family's deceased loved one did not make a will. 

This is because, when a person dies without a will or other estate planning devices in place, there are generally no legally-binding instructions from the deceased regarding what is to be done with their estate. 

What sorts of things can cause an estate plan to be out of date?

Sometimes, over time, things go out of date. For some things, having an out-of-date version of the thing is generally just a minor inconvenience. For other things though, having an out-of-date version can be remarkably negatively impactful.

Estate plans are something that fall into the latter category. Having out-of-date estate planning documents (like an out-of-date will) can be very problematic. For one, an out-of-date estate plan may no longer be in tune with the wishes of the person who formed it. Also, in some cases, an out-of-date estate plan's documents might not even be valid anymore.

Home care costs among the costs elderly Texans can face

When a person thinks about the type of care costs they could end up facing as they get older, their mind might go right to nursing home costs. However, elderly individuals can end up facing substantial care costs even if they do not end up having to move into a nursing home.

Sometimes, an elderly person's overall medical condition will be such that they are still able to live in their own home but they do need some special care. In such a situation, an elderly individual may need home care services. Home care services can have some significant costs associated with them.

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