San Antonio Estate Planning Attorney
Our Estate Planning Services
The Law Office of Brandon S. Glosson offers Estate Planning Services in the San Antonio, Texas area. Our estate plans are customized based on your specific needs and goals to develop a plan that is right for you and your family. Our estate plans go beyond just preparing a basic will. Depending upon your circumstances, we craft a plan that includes the following basic estate planning tools:
- Will and/or Revocable Living Trust (with pour-over will);
- Financial Power of Attorney (aka Durable Power of Attorney);
- Medical Power of Attorney;
- Living Will (aka Advance Directive or Health Care Directive);
- HIPAA Compliant Medical Authorization; and
- Final Disposition Instructions.
In addition to these basic estate planning tools, your will and trust attorney can also use additional tools to minimize estate taxes, reach giving objectives, and provide advanced legal protections, if needed. These tools include the use of testamentary trusts, pet trusts, education trusts, special needs trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable remainder trusts, gun trusts, A/B trusts, disclaimer trusts, QTIP trusts, life insurance trusts, intentionally defective grantor trusts, spendthrift trusts, memorial and endowment trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, and qualified income trusts (Miller Trusts).
Why You Need An Estate Plan
Estate Planning answers important questions about what happens when you die or if you become incapacitated. Common questions answered by estate plans include the following:
- If you become incapacitated, who will have the power to manage your financial affairs?
- Who will have to power to make medical decisions for you if needed?
- Do you want artificial life support if you are diagnosed with a terminal or irreversible condition or have a debilitating accident?
- Who will take care of your children if something happens to you?
- How will your children be provided for?
- Who gets what, at what age, and under what conditions?
- Who should be the executor of your estate?
Without an estate plan in place, these questions must often be answered by the courts through heirship, guardianship, and other proceedings. Unfortunately, the courts' choices may not be what you intended or be best for your family. As you can imagine, requiring the courts to answer these questions can involve a great deal of time and expense that is better avoided, if possible.
As your estate planning attorney, we will take the time to explain and work through these issues with you. Together, we will help you choose the level of planning appropriate for you, identify your goals, and determine how your unique circumstances can best be addressed. Ultimately, your plan will ensure that you get to call the shots and will provide a reliable map for your family to follow when the time comes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will: Property distribution occurs only after the will's creator dies, usually within four years.
Trust: Property distribution can occur at any time after the trust's creation, and can be spread out over time.
Executor vs. Trustee
Will: An executor is appointed to carry out the instructions in the will, identify assets, notify creditors, pay debts and taxes, and distribute assets after the will's creator dies.
Trust: Property is transferred to one or more 'trustees' to manage the trust for the benefit of one or more 'beneficiaries.' If the trust is set up by a couple, they are usually both trustees and beneficiaries. A backup trustee may also be appointed.
Probate (or not)
Will: Property passing under a will must go through the probate process. In Texas, this is a simple process.
Trust: Property in a trust does not need to go through probate. This is advantageous if out-of-state property is owned.
Will: A will can be used to appoint a guardian for minor children and provide for distribution of probate assets that were not put into a trust. Even if a living trust is in place, a pour-over will is necessary to accomplish these tasks.
Trust: A living trust cannot nominate a guardian for minor children. In addition, it cannot provide for distribution or control of property that is not placed inside the trust.
Your estate plan should be reviewed every three to five years, or whenever a major life event occurs. Major life events that should prompt a review of your estate plan include the following:
- Marriage or divorce;
- Serious illness, disability, or death of someone involved in your estate plan such as a family member, or proposed trustee, executor, or guardian;
- Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild;
- Coming of age of a child or grandchild;
- Purchase of a large asset such as a home;
- Major change in financial circumstances or the value of assets;
- Receiving a large inheritance or gift;
- Changes in federal or state law affecting estate taxes, income taxes, or estate law; and
- Large increases in liability such as taking out a large loan.
Non-probate assets are assets that pass by right of survivorship, by beneficiary designation, or that are held in a trust.
Very specific language is required in the titling documents for property to pass by right or survivorship. Most property does not pass by survivorship, even among spouses.
Property that passes by beneficiary designation includes some bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and transfer-on-death real estate deeds.
Probate-assets include all assets that are not non-probate assets. Probate assets pass under a will and require probate to legally transfer the title to the probate asset.
Probate is the legal process that is required to transfer legal title of probate assets. Probate consists of several steps including:
- Determining whether the will is valid;
- Determining that the testator is deceased;
- Appointing an executor for the testator's estate;
- Identifying the estate's assets;
- Notifying the estate's creditors;
- Paying the estate's debts and taxes; and
- Distributing the estate's assets as provided in the will.
Our clients can start the estate planning process with us by completing a questionnaire. This allows us to get a good idea of your family dynamics and needs, the goals you would like to accomplish, and the level of complexity needed for your plan. It is also a good idea to get together the paperwork for your primary assets and liabilities such as deeds, titles, mortgages, investment accounts, life insurance policies, and the like, along with the documents for any estate planning that you have already done.
Things to Know
Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. — Pablo Picasso Let’s face it. Your children mean the world to you. You owe it to them to prepare a plan for their futures in case something should happen to you. This means making sure that they will receive the […]
Contact a San Antonio Will and Trust Attorney
The Law Office of Brandon S. Glosson is passionate about helping people achieve an estate plan that is right for them. Contact Us through our website, or by phone at (210) 802-5288 to consult with a San Antonio will and trust attorney today.