Estate Planning

Gary works with individuals and couples to help them with their estate planning needs, including the preparation of wills, trusts (including firearm 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 and how your finance and health care decisions will be handled should you become incapacitated. The process includes taking the necessary steps to avoid probate, protect assets, and simplify the transition for loved ones.

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 health care decisions for you.  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. It is unfortunate the extent of family disputes, litigation, and unnecessary costs that arise because of the lack of proper planning.

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, including references to several e-booklets you can download.

Estate Planning Videos

1) 5 Goals You Can Accomplish with an Estate Plan

2) Who Can Make A Will?

3) What is the Purpose of Probate?

4) 4 Reasons for Avoiding Probate

5) 5 Reasons to Include a trust in Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning Documents

Document

Planning Objective

Will


Overall instructions for distributing assets and who will be responsible for this distribution. (Select for "Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Wills" e-booklet.)
You may find the following e-booklet helpful for selecting an Executor of your Will: (See "Choosing an Executor for Your Will".)
A Will may also include guardianship preferences for minor children. (Select for "Choosing a Guardian For Your Children" e-booklet.)

Revocable Living Trust

Legal entity in which its assets are owned and managed by the trustees on behalf of the beneficiaries. Commonly used to avoid probate, enhance privacy, and address estate tax issues. (Select for "Should Your Estate Plan Include A Revocable Living Trust" and "Probate: What It Is and Ways to Avoid It" e-booklets.)

Firearms Trust

Legal entity where the firearms are owned by the Settlors (contributors) and managed by the trustees on behalf of the beneficiaries. Critical for NFA firearms and recommended for all firearms. (Select for Benefits of a Firearms Trust.)

Transfer on Death DeedDeed that provides for your real property to pass without probate, often to the surviving spouse on the death of the first spouse and to named beneficiaries when both pass.

Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions

Authorization for agent to make legal and financial decisions upon incapacitation or, if appropriate, immediately. (Select for "Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Matters" e-booklet.)

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”). (Select for "Health Care Directives" e-booklet.)

(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 allow medical providers to share your medical records and discuss medical issues to designated persons. The medical power of attorney is governed by Texas law and the HIPAA release is governed under federal privacy laws.

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). (Select for "Choosing a Guardian for Your Children" e-booklet.)

Buy-Sell Agreement

Contract among the co-owners of a business that governs the purchase and sale of ownership interests in the business. (Select for "Protect Yourself And Preserve Your Business With a Buy-Sell Agreement" e-booklet.)

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 $280-300/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.

Simple Wills (without Estate Planning Services)

  • Consultation with Client to obtain necessary information for document preparation
  • Preparation of Will
  • Preparation of Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
  • Preparation of Medical Power of Attorney
  • Preparation of Advance Health Care Directive
  • Preparation of HIPAA Authorization
  • Signing Ceremony at my office with notarizations
  • Original documents provided in an indexed, 3-ring binder

(Services do not include evaluating Client’s estate for or providing any estate planning recommendations or services.)

Individual: $750 + notary fee

Married Couple: $1,000 + notary fee (All of the above documents will be prepared for each person.)

Add On: Preparation of Transfer on Death Deed to avoid probate for primary residence ($150)

Wills (with Estate Planning Services)

  • 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 Advance Health Care Directive
  • Preparation of HIPAA Authorization
  • Preparation of Transfer on Death Deed or Joint Tenancy Deed with Rights of Survivorship for primary residence (as appropriate)
  • Signing Ceremony at my office with notarizations
  • Indexed binder holding the original documents
  • USB Drive containing copies of all original documents.

Individual: $1,100 + notary fee

Married Couple: $1,380 + notary fee (Except for the Deed, all of the above documents will be prepared for each person.)

Revocable Living Trusts to Avoid Probate

  • Review of Client’s financial situation and 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 Trust Certificate
  • 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 Advance Health Care Directive
  • Preparation of HIPAA Authorization
  • Preparation of Deed to transfer primary residence into Trust
  • Signing Ceremony at my office with notarizations
  • Indexed binder holding the original documents
  • USB Flash Drive containing copies of all original documents.

Individual: $1,650 + notary fee

Married Couple: $2,150 + notary fee (Except for the Trust, Trust Certificate, and Deed, all of the above documents will be prepared for each person.)

Revocable Living Trusts for Estate Tax Planning

The preparation of a Revocable Living Trust with basic estate tax planning provisions for the marital deduction and bypass subtrusts for couples is an additional $750 over the fee listed above.

Firearms Trusts

A basic Firearms Trust is $500 + notary fee .  (This is not a standard revocable living trust, which should never be used in place of a firearms trust.) Trusts with specialized or complex provisions will be more.  If added to an existing package listed above, the cost is $300.  Please contact me to discuss your firearms trust needs.

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 real property other than the primary residence.
  • These estimated fees may change at any time and a fee agreement is not established until set forth in a signed Engagement Letter.
  • Veteran and Active Law Enforcement Discount: 10%

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 (Select for “Estate Planning After Divorce” e-booket)
  • Birth/Adoption of Children
  • Move to Texas from Another State (See “Update Your Estate Planning Documents After Your Move.”)
  • Purchase of a Home
  • Retirement
  • Move Into Assisted Living Facility
  • Disability
  • Death of Spouse
  • Receipt of Inheritance
  • Significant Change in Income or Assets
  • Similar Changes in Lives of Children (birth of grandchildren, adoption, disability, adulthood, marriage)

Legal Insurance Plans Accepted

I accept Legal Insurance Plans for Estate Planning Services from several companies, including:

MetLife Legal Plan