Estate Planning Attorney Houston

What is estate planning and what is the difference between a will and trust?

    • Once a person dies, their assets are collectively referred to as their estate. Estate planning in its most basic terms is deciding how you want your property to be divided after you die. Both wills and trusts are useful estate planning devices that serve different purposes, and many times can be used together to achieve a complete estate plan. While there are differences, the main difference between a will and a trust is that the will only goes into effect when you die,  while a trust takes effect immediately. The will appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes as to who will receive your property, whereas the trust appoints a trustee who manages the property for the duration of the trust, which may be years after you die, and distributes some or all of the property to those designated under certain conditions,  in specified amounts, and at particular intervals.

Is a Trust Better?

    • Neither tool is better, but rather it depends on the circumstances and your desires. If you do not want your personal business to be known by the community in which you live, a trust may be better as it does not have to be probated in open court.  A trust may also be preferable if you have members of your family that you believe will contest your will at the time of probate since a trust does not go through probate. If you have a sizable estate, a trust may be better so as to legally avoid certain taxes. On the other hand, a will may be preferable if you wish to specify in a binding document your funeral arrangements or to name a guardian for your minor children. These and more differences can be explained by an experienced estate planning attorney who will help you make the best decisions for your particular circumstances.

Why do I need a lawyer to draft a will or a trust?

      • You do not have to hire a lawyer. We, however, see many cases a year where individuals have prepared their own wills and simple trusts, using as a guide an old will or trust, some book or internet article. A quick look at the will or trust reveals that it does not comply with Texas law. Therefore, at the very least, more steps have to be taken to probate the will, which is expensive. Often, however,  the improperly drafted will or trust may also be open to contest by family members who do not feel that the will invalid and or does not leave to them what they think they deserve, It is much less expensive in dollars, as well as emotional upheaval in a family to hire an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer in Texas lawyer from the first to properly advise you on your estate needs and to properly draft your estate planning documents.

What else does estate planning entail?

    • Part of estate planning is also deciding who should be in charge of your financial affairs and medical needs before you die if you are unable to make those decisions on your own. Thereafter, your attorney may draft a customized Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney/Medical Directive. While finishing your estate documents your attorney may draft special deeds for real estate and other documents to give you the peace of mind that your estate will pass efficiently and without encumbrance to your loved ones.

What does it cost to hire an experienced estate planning attorney?

    • Fees and expenses for the consultation and for drafting a customized will and or a trust differ. Generally, a simple will costs $1,000-$1,500 whereas more complicated wills obviously can be double that amount. The comprehensive consultation and creation of a proper trust can cost as little as $3,500 or double that amount for a modest estate. Larger estates have many more nuances to consider and documents to draft. That estate planning work is billed at around $375 per hour.

What documents do I need to collect in order to make sure my estate plan is complete?

    • Please find a worksheet attached which you can use to locate and list the information we will need to begin to assist you.

How long does it take between the time of consultation to the time my estate planning documents are completed and ready to execute?

    • Again, it depends on the complexity of your needs. If your situation warrants a simple will, that can be accomplished in a week or two. If on the other hand, your estate is better served by a trust, this may take 2-4 weeks. Larger estates usually take a bit longer, but in all instances, we strive to draft and finish the will/estate plan as fast as possible, while at the same time making sure it is accurate and proper for the circumstances.

Our Estate Planning Law Firm in Houston at Stepp Law Firm PLLC Also Provide Following Services:

Estate Planning Worksheet

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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