Conventional wisdom may suggest it desirable to avoid probate17, and for many, that may in fact be prudent. However, based upon your particular circumstances, there may be a downside with the result of unintended consequences that do not best serve your desires and goals.
One primary reason for probate is when it becomes necessary for title to change from the name of the decedent to a named beneficiary. Many assets, however, can be held in a manner that precludes a title transfer. Examples of such assets, which are referred to by a Clear Lake City probate lawyer as part of the non-probate estate of the decedent, include life insurance proceeds, accounts at financial institutions held in joint trust or with a pay on death beneficiary and assets that are held in a living trust.
Reasons to Avoid Probate
Probate is a legal process that takes a certain amount of time and is subject to statutory fees. Many beneficiaries need access to the estate assets as soon as possible and feel the fees are too high and serve little purpose. The cost and time issues can be exacerbated if the decedent died with real property and assets in more than one state. Another issue is that of privacy; the probate proceeding is a matter of public record.
Protections Afforded by Probate
For estates with potential disputes among heirs or one with numerous creditors with contentious claims, a court supervised probate may be the preferred route. Another factor to consider is the lack of flexibility certain non-probate options provide. Assets held in joint tenancy, for example, can be transferred by either joint tenant. Finally, tax consequences must be considered. A Clear Lake City probate lawyer can best explain that gift tax, inheritance tax and a stepped-up basis of real estate are some of the matters that may be treated differently in a probate versus non-probate scenario.
Contact a Clear Lake City Probate Lawyer for Legal Advice
Estate planning is a complex matter in which you should consider a wide range of variables and the likely consequences. You have worked hard for what you have; be certain you leave your assets to your loved ones in the way that will best convey your wishes. Explore your options. Call the Law Firm of Badeaux & Associates, a Clear Lake City probate lawyer, at (281) 486-4737.
A Clear Lake wills lawyer can explain that making a will is often not a one-time occurrence that can be completed and then forgotten about. Instead, a will may need to be updated periodically after certain events occur.
One prime reason that a Clear Lake wills lawyer may need to update a client’s estate plan is when he or she gets divorced. Many individuals leave the bulk of their estate to a spouse. Additionally, they usually name their spouse as the executor of the will who will be tasked with the final responsibilities of handling the estate and distributing the decedent’s property. Some states have laws that state that provisions regarding an ex-spouse will not be honored unless there is a specific provision stating that this is the testator’s intent. However, changing the will is a better option because it helps to articulate how the testator wants to handle property that was previously assigned to his or her spouse.
Birth or Adoption of a Child
Another event that triggers the need to update a will is the birth or adoption of a child. A Clear Lake wills lawyer can explain that making a new will is the only way to ensure that this child receives the property that the testator intended him or her to have.
If you were not married at the time that you executed your will but you are now, you likely will want the assistance of a Clear Lake wills lawyer to update your estate plan. This can help you consciously decide which property you want for your spouse to receive. However, in Texas, your spouse has the right to take an elective share if he or she chooses. If you have no children, this share is equal to one-half of the estate. If you do have children, this is equal to one-third of the estate. However, if you have a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, your spouse may not be entitled to take this proportion of the estate. Ensuring that a spouse does not take too much of the estate is especially important for individuals who have children from a previous relationship.
If a person that was included in your will dies, you may need to update your will. This may include if a beneficiary dies or an executor dies. However, whether you need to update your will or not for this reason depends on how your original will was worded. Many wills contain contingent provisions that apply if a certain condition is met. For example, a successor executor may receive the position only if the original successor predeceases him or her.
Increase in Income or Wealth
If your financial picture changes in a significant way, there may be necessary updates. For example, there may be additional pieces of property to consider. Likewise, there may be more funds available that can be split in a different manner than originally contemplated. In addition to these considerations, having a substantial gain in income or wealth may mean that certain tax-planning strategies are employed or that a trust should be used.
Lapse in Time
If it has been several years since you last updated your will, a Clear Lake wills lawyer may recommend that you re-evaluate your will. Many things can change over time. In addition to changed circumstances, your relationships may change. Someone with whom you were close may no longer be an integral part of your life. Your children’s actions may make you re-evaluate the previously determined disposition you had in mind. You may have changed your mind about a power of attorney designation if the agent now lives in a different location and the arrangement is no longer feasible. Additionally, tax laws may change that may influence you to alter your estate plan. Any of these factors can change over time and be a trigger for an update.
Legal Assistance from a Clear Lake Wills Lawyer
If you would like to know if you need to update your estate plan, contact a Clear Lake wills lawyer from the Law Firm of Badeaux & Associates by calling (281) 486-4737.
An estate planning attorney Clear Lake has many more jobs than writing a will. Sometimes, a document that may be more relied on than a will is a durable power of attorney. This document establishes a specific agency relationship between two people. The principal is the person granting authority to an agent.
An estate planning attorney Clear Lake can explain that by signing this document, the signor gives another person the legal power to conduct financial, business and legal transactions on his or her behalf.
Including a provision regarding durability means that the power will not terminate if you become incapacitated.
For the document to have legal effect, it must be in writing and signed by you. It must specify a particular person to serve as the agent. It may include general provisions granting a number of powers, or it may grant only specified powers. Generally, witnesses are not required. Additionally, the document does not need to be filed with any particular entity unless it is relied on to complete a transaction involving real property.
The power becomes effective according to the terms of the document that grants this power. The document may state that it is immediately effective at the time of signing. Alternatively, the power of attorney may go into effect upon a particular event, such as upon incapacitation or disability. It may also go into effect for a range of dates, such as when you are traveling abroad This is usually referred to as a “springing” power of attorney. “Disability” may be defined in the terms of the principal, such as through self-certification or upon certain enumerated disabilities that an estate planning attorney Clear Lake writes into the document. Otherwise, it may mean that a physician must certify that the principal is unable to manage his or her financial affairs. The power remains effective indefinitely, unless it states that there is a certain time limit or date when it will expire.
Legal Assistance from an Estate Planning Attorney in Clear Lake
For more information on establishing a durable power of attorney, contact an estate planning attorney Clear Lake from the Law Firm of Badeaux & Associates of (281) 486-4737.
When looking for a Texas estate planning lawyer, Clear Lake is an excellent place to begin. Badeaux & Associates is one of the highly reputable estate planning lawyers Clear Lake offers, and the legal professionals at the firm understand how to craft an estate plan that allows the primary will maker to choose exactly what they would prefer. Being prepared for a calamity is very important when writing a personal will, or assigning instructions if a medical emergency arises.
Order to Resuscitate
Resuscitation is the protocol that medical professionals follow when a patient has become incapacitated and near death. Hospitals routinely resuscitate patients who are dying unless there are specific instructions to not keep the patient alive in the event of an emergency health issue. All hospitals will normally not ask the patient’s family if they need to resuscitate. A specific document is required to ensure that a medical professional will not automatically begin resuscitation.
An Order to Resuscitate Is Not a Living Will
An order to not resuscitate a patient is not the same instrument as a living will. A living will is prepared by an attorney and serves as a legal notice that the patient does not want to be resuscitated, but it is not actual authorization to allow the patient to die. The living will must be accompanied with an official “Do Not Resuscitate” order, medically termed a DNR, and it must accompany the living will. It also requires the signature of the attending family physician or the emergency room physician.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Clear Lake
For anyone in Texas needing an estate planning lawyer, Clear Lake legal firm Badeaux & Associates is a solid choice for an estate evaluation and all needs concerning dispensation of health care when a primary will maker wants to ensure that everything will go according to their wishes in an untimely medical event.
A Clear Lake estate planning lawyer will be able to advise you as to whether you need an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, which can be a great tool to offset any estate tax liability. Many people mistakenly believe that life insurance proceeds are completely tax free. However, while life insurance proceeds are generally income tax free, they are not estate tax free. Thus, if you die owning a life insurance policy, the proceeds are included in your estate for determining the amount of estate taxes you owe. Life insurance policies are often a great way to invest. But depending on your circumstances, an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (“ILIT”) can be a smarter way to hold that asset. A Clear Lake estate planning lawyer can help you assess your situation and establish an ILIT.
How Does an ILIT Reduce Estate Taxes?
An ILIT is a trust that holds and is the primary beneficiary of life insurance policies. In order to keep the proceeds of the life insurance policy out of your taxable estate, you cannot retain any “incidents of ownership.” So, you cannot be the Trustee of the ILIT. But your spouse or other trusted person can be the Trustee. hen, upon your death, the death benefit proceeds are paid into the Trust and pass on to the benefit of named beneficiaries of the Trust, but again, the policy is not owned by you and thus not included in your estate for estate tax purposes. Also, the proceeds can be retained in the trust – for the benefit of your spouse during his or her lifetime – but not owned by your spouse. Thus, upon your spouse’s death, it is also not included in the spouse’s taxable estate. By the terms of the ILIT, it could then pay out to your children upon the death of your spouse (who benefited from it during his or her life).
An ILIT can also be used to provide proceeds to pay the estate tax that will be due upon the rest of your estate, without raising the taxable value of the estate, and with insurance proceeds – essentially getting “discounted” money to pay the taxes.
Contact a Clear Lake Estate Planning Lawyer
When you need a Clear Lake estate planning lawyer, call the Law Firm of Badeaux & Associates at (281) 486-4737, and let our experienced attorneys help you create an estate plan that is right for you.
If you have or are in the process of writing your will, a Clear Lake estate planning lawyer has suggestions on how you should store your will. The most important advice a Clear Lake estate planning attorney will give you about storing a will as that the original is saved in a place where it can easily be found following your death.
You may be concerned that your will may not be found due to theft, water damage, or fire, but it is far more likely that your family simply will not be able to find your will. One convenient place to store your will is where you keep all your legal and financial documents. Another great place is in a safe deposit box. However, if you choose that option, a Clear Lake estate planning lawyer recommends that you let all your beneficiaries and other personal representatives know the location of the will. You will need to arrange for the bank to allow certain people access to the box after your death.
Another aspect to consider is if your representative or beneficiary pre-deceases you. To prepare for that possibility, clearly delineate in a legal document a chain of inheritance. This will make it easier for your beneficiaries, saving time and effort on their part. If you have an attorney, let them know where your original will is kept. They will keep this information confidential, but upon your passing can pass that information on to a representative.
Contact a Clear Lake Estate Planning Lawyer
For more information regarding storing your will, contact a Clear Lake estate planning lawyer at the Law Firm of Badeaux & Associates at (281) 486-4737.
If you are worried about who will take care of your financial matters if you become incapacitated, a Clear Lake probate lawyer may recommend establishing a power of attorney. This individual is a designated agent who is provided with a certain type and number of powers by the principal.
Types of Powers
A Clear Lake probate lawyer can explain that a power of attorney can be as broad or narrow as a principal desires. This may include executing contracts on the principal’s behalf, registering his or her vehicle, conducting real estate sales, conducting bank account transactions and handling his or her financial affairs.
Your Clear Lake probate attorney can also explain that some power of attorney designations are durable in nature. This means that the powers that the principal gives the agent remain effective even if the principal becomes incapacitated.
Requirements for Power of Attorney
In order for a power of attorney designation to be valid, it must be provided to an individual who is 18 years old or older and of sound mind. Alternatively, your Clear Lake probate lawyer can explain that you can give a financial institution power of attorney so long as it has a place of business in Florida.
Selecting a Power of Attorney
A power of attorney should be someone whom you trust. Additionally, you may want to consider how this person gets along with your health care power of attorney. If you would like to know more information about establishing a power of attorney, contact the Law Firm of Badeaux & Associates by calling (281) 486-4737.
A Clear Lake trusts lawyer can explain the benefits of a trust. If you are interested in establishing a trust or you are uncertain as to whether you need one, your Clear Lake trusts lawyer may describe the following information.
The settlor is the individual who sets up a trust and contributes property to it. The beneficiary is the person who is ultimately intended to benefit from the administration of the trust; this may be one or more people. The trustee is responsible for administering the trust. In some cases, one person fulfills all three of these roles.
Creation of Trusts
A settlor effectively creates a trust when he or she transfers the legal title of certain possessions to the trustee. The trustee is responsible for managing these possessions for the benefit of the beneficiary.
Types of Trusts
Your Clear Lake trusts attorney can explain that there are a number of different trusts. For example, an inter vivos trust is one that is created during the settlor’s lifetime. It can be revocable or irrevocable. Irrevocable trusts are often utilized to provide asset protection. Revocable trusts help manage assets during the settlor’s lifetime. They can also dispose of assets according to the settlor’s wishes at his or her death. A testamentary trust is one that comes in play after the settlor dies. Some trusts contain spendthrift provisions that prevent creditors from getting assets in the trust.
Learn More from an Attorney
If you would like more information about trusts, contact Clear Lake trusts lawyer Joanne Badeaux at (281) 486-4737.
Many people communicate their desire to a Clear Lake probate attorney to avoid the probate process altogether. This process is often long in nature and expensive. Additionally, it ties up assets for some time, leaving the beneficiaries waiting for the proceeds to which they are due. Your Clear Lake probate attorney may explain that there are various non-probate assets that may assist you in providing your beneficiaries with the funds and assets that they need right away.
Your Clear Lake probate lawyer can explain that life insurance is one type of non-probate asset. This is true, as long as the estate or personal representative is not named as the beneficiary.
Again, as long as the personal representative or estate is not named as the beneficiary, employer-provided retirement plans, as well as Individual Retirement Accounts in which the decedent is the participant or owner, are non-probate assets.
If a person owns assets that are in trust, these transfer outside the probate process. Your Clear Lake probate attorney can explain that administering a trust is a private process, much different than the very public process of probate.
Right of Survivorship Assets
Assets that are shared with a right of survivorship also pass outside of probate. The joint owner automatically receives the other owner’s portion upon his or her death. This may include real property as well as financial accounts.
Contact a Clear Lake Probate Lawyer
If you would like more information on assets that you may be able to use to avoid probate, contact Joanne Badeaux by calling (281) 486-4737.
In a business transaction, the buyer might not realize all of the responsibilities that will pass on to them as part of the deal. Once the ink is dry on the contract, they might unexpectedly learn that they now will take over the seller’s old debts and liabilities. Generally, the buyer will inherit liabilities in a stock deal but not in an asset deal. For help with how this might apply in your specific case, talk to our probate attorney in Clear Lake.
Stock Deals Versus Asset Deals
You are buying the stock of the company, and the structure of the business does not change. The only difference is that now you are taking over as the owner of the company as the assets and debts remain unchanged. On the other hand, in an asset deal, your company is only taking over the liabilities and assets that you choose, so you do not need to buy any debt you do not want. The seller retains ownership of the company, including liabilities and debts. Our probate lawyer in Clear Lake can provide you with advice on how to set up your deal.
Exceptions in Liability Assumption
Even so, there are a few exceptions to this rule. The doctrine of successor liability prevents creditors from being cheated in a deal or treated fraudulently. In bulk sales businesses, the law also protects creditors, so liabilities will transfer. While a buyer will not usually assume the seller’s taxes, the following exceptions apply: federal income taxes, California sales taxes, California payroll taxes and Social Security taxes. Your probate attorney in Clear Lake can help you navigate the tricky territory of how exemptions might apply in your case.
Confusion on which liabilities transfer to a new owner and which liabilities do not transfer is common in business transactions. Understanding this point alone can make or break a deal. If you are looking for a probate attorney in Clear Lake, contact Joanne Badeaux at (281) 486-4737.