The estate planning lawyers at Adair Myers Stevenson Yagi believe everyone should have the opportunity to map out their wishes for the future. As estate lawyers, we can assist you with your estate planning and save your loved ones from the stress of administering your estate, as well as implement strategies to avoid or reduce a large tax bill.
We are especially knowledgeable of the estate tax planning requirements for business owners and principals given our long history working with small- and medium-sized Houston businesses. We know that as a business owner, you have put in tremendous effort and work into growing the assets you control today. We are committed to protecting our clients and their family’s property. We have the experience necessary to avoid a devastating forced sale of a family business to pay estate taxes and can work with you to create a plan that addresses all your unique needs.
When estate planning, there are many considerations to take into account, including:
- Medical power of attorney: In the event you become incapacitated, you may grant another individual the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. This is especially important if you don’t want certain individuals making those decisions for you.
- Physician directives: Your wishes regarding life-sustaining medical treatment, such as life support, can be detailed out in your estate planning documents. You get to choose in advance what you’d like to happen rather than someone else choosing for you in the moment.
- HIPAA release forms: Make sure the person(s) you designate to have your medical power of attorney will be permitted the necessary access to your medical records.
- Guardian designations: For children or adults with special needs, you can specify who will take guardianship in the event of your death. For those with special needs, preplanning of special needs trusts is critical.
- Special purpose trusts: Certain types of trusts, such as Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, and Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, can all serve important estate planning functions.
As your estate lawyer, we will make sure that wills and trusts are set up properly to avoid future disputes. If you have questions about an existing will or trust, we can also review these documents for you to find any risks you may not be aware you are exposed to or to identify any changes in the law that may necessitate an update. Additionally, if you would like to leave assets to a stepchild or a child with special needs, consulting estate planning attorneys now could help your family avoid costly disputes later.
If you are going through the estate planning or probate process, you don’t have to undertake the burden of doing it alone. Gain peace of mind knowing the trusted and experienced probate attorneys at Adair Myers Stevenson Yagi are by your side.
Our firm’s managing partner Chris Stevenson has represented numerous executors and administrators in the estates of decedents. Mr. Stevenson has also worked with estates where there is a deficiency of assets to pay creditors. In these situations, he has successfully negotiated with creditors to lessen the financial burden on the estate to increase the amounts available to beneficiaries and heirs.
- Mr. Stevenson represented an heir in a contested heirship where a person was claiming to be the wife of the decedent through common law marriage, thus entitled to all of the decedent’s estate. After presenting numerous witnesses and evidence at the heirship hearing, the judge found his client was the sole heir and entitled to all of the decedent’s estate.
- Mr. Stevenson represented an executor against an investment advisor for fraud and negligent misrepresentation stemming from an estate plan and investment strategy created for the decedent, who was the executor’s elderly father. The investment strategy resulted in all of the decedent’s assets being owned by another relative, who conspired with the advisor for this purpose. The transactions resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in losses to the decedent’s estate. Mr. Stevenson fought for the estate and obtained a favorable settlement from the investment advisor.
The loss of a loved one is often devastating, and regardless of whether or not the deceased made their wishes known in writing, you may have many questions about what happens next. Our estate attorneys can work with you and your family to help you understand exactly what to expect next and what the process requires.
In some instances, you will need to go through the probate process. Fortunately, probate in Texas does not have to be the ordeal it is in many other states. The executor of the estate files the will in a probate court, then identifies any assets, debts, and tax obligations, and notifies creditors and beneficiaries regarding the distribution of the estate’s property.
Reasons the validity of a will might be questioned:
- Allegations or evidence of undue influence, or when a person is induced to act otherwise than by their own free will
- The individual lacked the mental capacity to generate their own will
- Allegations of fraud
- Someone didn’t get what they think they are entitled to
- The decedent tried to draft the will themself and did not follow the statutory requirements
In the event that the validity of a will is questioned, our lawyers can represent clients in either contesting a will or in defending one throughout probate litigation by filing necessary documents, transferring assets not subject to probate, and navigating disputes.
Houston Estate Planning Attorneys
When it comes to planning your estate, you need an attorney who will handle your personal, business, financial, and family affairs competently and professionally. No matter the complexity of your estate, we work to minimize taxes, potential disputes, and ensure your final wishes are carried out. If you are in need of assistance planning your estate, feel free to contact us at (713) 522-2270.