Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a loved one dies without a Will?
When someone dies without a will, Texas law determines what happens to the assets in their estate. The probate process must be conducted in order to distribute estate assets to the heirs or heirs-at-law as required by Texas law are distributed to the closest family members, which include a surviving spouse and/or children in most cases.
Probate Terms to Know
Administrator: When the decedent has passed on without leaving a valid will and no executor has been named, Texas law requires that an administrator be named to carry out the duties of an executor. The court will often appoint one of the primary heirs to act in this capacity.
Beneficiaries: These are the loved ones named in a will.
Decedent: This is the legal term for the person who has died and whose estate is in the probate process.
Estate: In the state of Texas, an estate consists of all the decedent’s assets. These include, but aren’t limited to, cash, real estate holdings (homes, land, etc.), stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, vehicles and personal belongings.
Executor: When a person dies with a valid will in place, the document typically names a person to serve as executor of the estate. The chief duties of the executor will be to inventory and catalogue the decedent’s assets; pay taxes and debts of the estate; file lawsuits for claims owed to the estate; and distribute assets from the estate to the beneficiaries as named in the decedent’s will.
Heirs or Heirs-at-Law: This is the legal term used for next-of-kin of the decedent when there is no will. The court determines who receives assets from the decedent’s estate according to Texas law.
Will: This is the legal document in which a decedent has outlined how he or she would like assets distributed among their loved ones.
Why is it good to avoid probate?
Time and money. Probate is a court process with all of its various proceedings, such as court hearings, gathering or inventorying estate asset and paying off debts, which takes months or even years. You can take appropriate steps to avoid probate of your assets. If you have any questions about how to avoid probate of your assets, call us to schedule a free consultation today.
Why are revocable trusts effective in complex estate planning situations?
Clients with business interests, blended families, or significant tax concerns should consider utilizing revocable living trusts to avoid unnecessary delays in the management of regular financial responsibilities. Establishing trusts may be effective in significantly decreasing the likelihood of a will contest, as trust are activated while the settlor (or trustor or grantor) is living versus in a will situation.
Once I have a revocable living trust, how do I fund it?
For your trust to activate, you must fund the trust with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Brown Law PLLC will assist you with transferring ownership of some or all your assets into the trust. Schedule an office or virtual client appointment today to fund your trust; simply contact us.
If I have a revocable living trust, do I need a will?
Yes. If you have assets that were not placed into the trust before your death or after it, then a pour-over will enable those things to funnel into and be administered under terms of any revocable living trusts.
How will the revocable trust help me if I own property located outside of Texas?
People who own real property outside the State of Texas may be able to avoid probate of their wills in each of those states by establishing a revocable living trust. The trust will own the real properties and probate will not be necessary for the properties. For more information on revocable trusts, please contact us today to schedule your consultation.
Estate Planning FAQs
What is a power of attorney?
The power of attorney is a legal document which gives one person the ability to act on your behalf as an agent. The type and extent can vary greatly and for whatever period that’s appropriate- whether it be temporary or permanent. The agent steps in to your shoes and therefore has the same amount of control over financial transactions and/or medical decisions as you.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If you die without a will, Texas law will determine how and to whom your money and property will go to. This likely will complicate matters in your family particularly if some do not believe it is fair.
What is the main purpose of a trust?
The main goal of estate planning is to maximize your wealth during your lifetime and to pass the largest amount of assets possible to your loved ones at death with as little hassle as possible. This goal can be met via a will or a trust. Establishing a trust may be the most efficient and effective way to avoid probate thereby limiting hassle of court proceedings and executor probate filing requirements. In some cases, establishing a trust may help to avoid or reduce inheritance taxes for families who would otherwise be subjected to an Estate tax bill.
What is probate in simple terms?
The probate process is the entire system for administering an estate after someone passes away. This includes everything from tax responsibilities and debts to possessions, so it’s important that you have a say in how your money or assets will be distributed when they’re gone! If there are any questions about this type of law matter feel free get back with us because our attorneys here at Brown Law PLLC can help guide all aspects towards clarity.
How much money can you inherit without paying taxes on it?
The federal estate tax is complicated, but it’s important to know. The amount of assets that are subject to this taxes varies depending on your lifetime and the year you pass away in particular; for example if someone dies during calendar years 2021-2022 then they will be taxed at 18% or 40%.
Should I assign a power of attorney?
Yes. Your power of attorney will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. You can assign someone to make both financial and health care decisions, or you can assign these duties to different people. You may want to think about giving someone power of attorney if they are able, trustworthy and willing to make sound financial and/or medical decisions for you if the need arises.
What is the job of my executor?
Your executor is responsible for gathering your assets, making sure your debts and taxes are paid, and distributing the money to your beneficiaries.
When I die, do I have to pay taxes on my money?
Yes. Your estate will be taxed by the government when you die, but there are ways to protect it from this death-tax!
An attorney can help prepare an appropriate plan so that everything passes smoothly without any complications or unnecessary fees attached onto your loved one’s final expenses in life.
Do I need to have a will?
Yes, the best way to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away is with a will. It doesn’t matter how much money or property there may be – every situation deserves thoughtful consideration.
It is important to have a will, even if you are wealthy. If your loved ones must divide up money and property after death then they won’t know how much responsibility each person deserves because there won’t be any instructions on who should get what in the event of one’s passing away! Additionally with minor children involved it allows for accounts such as guardianship issues which can become complicated very quickly without careful planning beforehand.
Business Law FAQs
What do you mean by business law?
Business law is the body of legal information that applies to all types and sizes businesses. It covers everything from contracts, sales etc., with a focus on how they relate to one another in commerce-related settings such as merchandising or trade practices.
Can I change my business structure?
Yes, you can change your business structure as your company develops. Some business owners will change their business entity if they grow or merge with another company. It also may be beneficial to make a change of business structure to reduce your taxes.