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Estate Planning Archives

Estate planning and annual gifts

Recently on this blog, we discussed the federal estate tax and noted that its exemption is now set at $11.4 million. Since Texas has no state estate tax, and few Texas individuals leave behind an estate worth more than $11.4 million, most Texas families need not concern themselves with estate taxes when they are preparing their estate plans.

Clearing up some estate tax myths

Estate planning and probate are subjects that can profoundly affect people's lives, and yet they don't come up very often in conversation. One of the few occasions on which the popular news media will discuss the subjects is when there is a courtroom battle over a famous person's will. Another is when there is a political battle over the estate tax.

How often should I update my estate plan?

Your will is meant to be the last statement of your intentions about how to distribute your property after you are gone. However, a lot can happen in your life after you sign your name on your finished will. If you don't update your will to reflect these changes, you may end up leaving a plan that does not reflect your wishes. In the worst cases, an out-of-date will can lead to confusion, disputes and even litigation.

How does a Texas health proxy work?

The disposition of assets is a major part of estate planning, but it is not the only part. Another important part of estate planning has to do with how health care decisions are to be made if the person doing the estate planning becomes incapacitated. There are a number of instruments available for Texans who have feelings on how health care decisions should be made if they lose the capacity to make their own decisions. This blog post will discuss one of these instruments, the medical power of attorney.

Estate planning decisions should be informed

As mentioned many times before on this blog, Houston residents, along with their counterparts across the country, often delay talking about end-of-life decisions and how they would like their assets to be distributed amongst their heirs. In the absence of a healthcare proxy or a financial one, family members are left to make important, life altering decisions in an emotionally charged environment and this can lead to family disputes in the long-run. This could be avoided if individuals take the time and make the effort to make these decisions and create comprehensive estate plans.

End of year estate planning modifications crucial

The end of the year is a hectic time for most Texas residents, as they complete their holiday shopping and get ready to ring in the New Year with their family members. While many think to cook lavish meals and get extravagant gifts for family members to express their love, very few realize that they might have overlooked a very basic way to provide for their family member's futures -- creating a comprehensive estate plan.

Timely trust modifications can avoid family disputes

Houston residents who have created their estate plans might think they have their ducks lined up, but simply creating an estate plan is not the end of the matter. It is very important to periodically review the plan to ensure that it is up to date. A lot might have changed since a trust was created or beneficiaries named, and the estate planning documents may no longer be appropriate. Things change, and so should trusts.

Do my college going kids need an estate plan?

Many Houston residents may have sent off their children to college this fall and in between wondering how quickly time passes and how they are going to change the extra bedroom into a gym, they neglect to think about essential updates to their estate plan. When a child is born, parents likely update their estate plans to nominate a guardian for them in case something happened to the parents. Now that the children are older, there are a new set of issues an estate plan should consider, including how to continue financially supporting a child without letting other people take advantage of them.

New tax laws and their effect on estate planning

Texas residents may be aware that a new tax law was signed into law at the end of 2017 and how it may affects aspects of financial planning but they may not be aware they it can play a big role in estate planning. The tax reform legislation substantially raised the estate tax exemption over previous limits, and this can impact gifting and estate planning until 2025, when the law is set to expire, and afterwards as well.