The Livens Law Firm

Estate Planning Archives

Separation versus divorce in estate planning

When a person dies estranged from his or her spouse but the couple is not legally divorced, it can lead to a host of issues with an estate. More couples are opting for long-term separation instead of divorce and, in some situations, a separation does not extinguish spousal rights and privileges. In Texas and elsewhere, problems can erupt in estate planning without a final divorce decree.

Power of attorney and end-of-life planning can be challenging

Experts say once a person turns 18 years old, he or she should have two legal documents. The first is a medical power of attorney, which appoints an individual who will make decisions regarding medical treatment in the event of incapacitation. The second is a financial power of attorney, who will specifically instruct how assets and property are to be distributed after death. Many people in Texas and elsewhere find it difficult to have conversations about death and dying with family members.

Estate planning is critical to protect crypto-assets

Billions of dollars in wealth may be in jeopardy if crypto-assets are not included in estate plans. Experts say that when it comes to estate planning, cryptocurrency will need to be documented with proof of ownership and how heirs can access it. In Texas and elsewhere, the rise in the value of cryptocurrency has created quite a stir recently.

Estate planning is an important part of a financial plan

Family members with considerable assets may be unaware of the best way to bestow their wealth upon future generations. There are several options available for gifting to loved ones and donating to charities as part of bequeathing one's estate. In Texas and other states, estate planning can ensure assets are divided among the right beneficiaries.

Financial and tax options for an IRA inheritance

What happens when a person passes away and leaves an IRA to someone other than a spouse? A spouse who receives an IRA inheritance has the most flexibility and can treat the account as his or her own. Others will find that their options are limited, and making the wrong decision can have expensive financial consequences. In Texas and other states, four options are available for the beneficiaries of inherited IRA accounts.

Avoid probate with proper estate planning

An estate includes everything a person owns, including assets and outstanding liabilities at the time of death. Once all debts are fulfilled, what is left is known as net assets. In Texas, most people put off talking about estate planning, but by not having a plan in place, it can lead to the decedent's estate going into probate. Probate can be time consuming and expensive, but it can be avoided by utilizing one of the many financial devices available.

Procrastination is one of the biggest mistakes in estate planning

Writing a will and making a list of assets to be passed along to heirs is the first step in preparing for the future. Procrastinating about estate planning is a common mistake. In Texas and all other states, not having the proper documents in place in the event of one's death means the state's intestacy laws will determine how a person's assets will be distributed.

Estate planning is still necessary if death tax disappears

Congress has released a tax reform plan to eliminate the federal estate tax, also known as the death tax.  Many lawmakers have had this tax on their radars for years, and most consider it another form of double taxation. In Texas, estate planning may still be necessary even without the federal estate tax.

Family financial options when estate planning

Estate planning is a shrewd and clever way to provide for a family's financial future. Trusts are an alternative to leaving a will (or may be used in conjunction with one), and offer a broad range of flexible solutions during estate planning. In Texas, revocable trusts, commonly known as living trusts can be made, and managed according to the terms set forth by the creator. Living trusts can also be changed once they are put in place.

Choosing a trustee important part of estate planning

A living trust, or revocable trust, typically names the person who established it as the trustee. Should one spouse pass away, the surviving spouse would then become the sole trustee, in most cases. Since living trusts are often a component of the estate planning process for many Texas residents, it would be worthwhile to identify a successor trustee for when the surviving spouse also passes away. Financial experts say that children, other family members, friends or financial institutions are commonly named as successor trustees.

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