Estate Planning

Gary works with individuals and couples to help them with their estate planning needs, including the preparation of wills, trusts (including gun trusts), powers of attorney, and health care directives.

Estate planning is the process of making critical decisions now about how your assets will be distributed when you die or how your finance and health care decisions will be handled should you become incapacitated.

Estate Planning Decisions

Any complete planning process involves:

1) identifying goals and objectives;

2) developing strategies to achieve these goals and objectives (including alternatives for changing circumstances);

3) preparing the legal documents necessary to pursue these strategies;

4) signing/notarizing the legal documents; and

5) monitoring these records to ensure they continue to support existing goals and objectives.

Estate planning involves determining who will make critical legal, financial, and health care decisions if you are temporarily or permanently unable to do so.  It provides guidance for those making those decisions.  It also involves determining how your resources will be used after your death, including who will own the assets, who will benefit from them, and how they will be managed. All of these decisions necessitate following the steps for the complete planning process and require careful thought and preparation.

It is unfortunate the extent of family disputes, litigation, and unnecessary costs that arise because of the lack of proper planning. Estate planning is not simply filling-in the blanks of a pre-printed form. Much of the time required by a competent attorney is incurred working with clients so they understand the importance and implications of the decisions involved as well as preparing the drafts and final documents.  The costs of preparation are minuscule when compared to the costs incurred by the person’s estate and family because of the lack of proper planning, litigation, and taxes. A competent estate plan requires time and effort by you and your attorney to ensure it meets your goals and addresses contingencies for the most likely changed circumstances.

I can work with you to discuss your goals, develop optional strategies for achieving them, determine which of those strategies are optimal, prepare the necessary legal documents consistent with those strategies, and implement those documents. When completed, you can feel confident that you have thoughtfully considered your goals and planned for the future as reflected in your estate planning documents.

To help you understand the potential estate planning documents involved, I have listed below the general purpose of the various documents used in Texas.

Estate Planning Documents

Texas

Planning Objective

Will


Overall instructions for distributing assets and who will be responsible for this distribution. May also include guardianship preferences for minor children and provide burial authorization

Revocable Living Trust


Legal entity owning assets transferred into it. Commonly used to avoid probate, enhance privacy, and address estate tax issues (In addition to the revocable living trust, several other types of trusts may be used for differing objectives.)

Firearms Trust


Legal entity owning firearms and related equipment transferred into it. Critical for NFA firearms and recommended for all firearms.

Power of Attorney


Authorization for agent to make legal and financial decisions upon incapacitation or, if appropriate, immediately

Medical Power of
Attorney

Authorization for agent to make healthcare and personal care decisions upon incapacitation

Directives to Physicians and Family ("Health Care Directive")


Directions to medical providers regarding the use of medical technology to prolong life (sometimes referred to by the confusing term “Living Will”)

(Out-of-Hospital) Do Not
Resuscitate Order

Instructions not to perform emergency procedures to restart heart or breathing

Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release

Authorization to release health care information to designated persons

Declaration of Guardian

Specify preferences of a guardian/ conservator should the court need to appoint one

Declaration of Appointment
of Guardian for Children


Specify preference for guardian of minor children (provisions generally included in will, but separate document may be useful in case of incapacitation rather than death)

Buy-Sell Agreement

Contract among the co-owners of a business that governs the purchase and sale of ownership interests in the business

Estate Planning Fee Guidelines

An important part of any client relationship is knowing precisely what the legal services include and what the fees will be. My billable rate ranges from $275-300/hour.  Billing at an hourly rate will always lead to differences from any estimate provided. After almost three decades of legal experience, I have learned that the vast majority of my clients prefer a flat fee.

The fees listed below for various estate plans are guidelines for an average, non-complicated estate plan and work with most clients. Your particular estate planning needs, however, may be more complicated. For example, the need for specialty trusts or complicated estate plans involving business interests will require additional work and fees.

Wills

  • Consultation with Client as necessary to determine Client’s estate planning objectives
  • Preparation of draft estate planning documents for Client to review
  • Further consultations with Client to answer questions, address concerns, and provide further estate planning guidance for final draft of documents
  • Preparation of Will
  • Preparation of Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
  • Preparation of Medical Power of Attorney
  • Preparation of Directive To Physician
  • Preparation of HIPAA Authorization
  • Signing Ceremony at my office and Notary Fee
  • One paper copy of all signed/notarized documents provided in addition to an indexed binder containing the originals
  • USB Drive containing copies of all original documents.

Individual: $1,250

Married Couple: $1,750 (All of the above documents will be prepared for each person.)

Revocable Living Trusts to Avoid Probate

  • Consultation with Client as necessary to determine Client’s estate planning objectives
  • Preparation of draft estate planning documents for Client to review
  • Further consultations with Client to answer questions, address concerns, and provide further estate planning guidance for final draft of documents
  • Preparation of Revocable Living Trust
  • Preparation of Certificate of Trust
  • Preparation of General Assignment and Bill of Sale
  • Preparation of Memorandum of Personal Effects
  • Preparation of “Pourover” Will
  • Preparation of Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
  • Preparation of Medical Power of Attorney
  • Preparation of Directive To Physician
  • Preparation of HIPAA Authorization
  • Signing Ceremony at my office and Notary Fee
  • One paper copy of all signed/notarized documents provided in addition to an indexed binder containing the originals
  • USB Flash Drive containing copies of all original documents.

Individual: $2,250

Married Couple: $2,750 (Except for the Trust, all of the above documents will be prepared for each person.)

Revocable Living Trusts for Estate Tax Planning

The preparation of a more complicated Revocable Living Trust with estate tax planning provisions for the marital deduction and bypass subtrusts for couples is an additional $1,000 over the fee listed above.

Firearms Trusts

If part of the estate planning services listed above, a separate Firearms Trust is $500. If prepared independently (not part of any of the estate planning services listed above), the preparation of a Firearms Trust is $750.

Additional Information

  • You will be able to review these estate planning documents twice and I will make the requested changes to these documents to ensure they meet with your approval. After that, only those changes which I missed or changed incorrectly will be made without incurring additional legal fees at my hourly rate.
  • These fees do not include services to change the beneficiaries of nonprobate assets.
  • Additional fees will be required to transfer assets into a trust, including Warranty Deeds.
  • These estimated fees may change at any time and a fee agreement is not established until set forth in a signed Engagement Letter.

When to Review Your Estate Plan

If you have prepared an estate plan, it can be changed as long as you are mentally  competent.  In fact, your estate plan should be reviewed and likely updated whenever critical life events occur, including any of the following:

  • Marriage/Divorce
  • Birth of Children
  • Retirement
  • Disability
  • Death of Spouse
  • Receipt of Inheritance
  • Similar Changes in Lives of Children (birth of grandchildren, adoption, disability, adulthood, marriage)