Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

TEXAS GOVERNOR DRAWS CRITICISM FOR WHAT HE CALLS GOOD ESTATE PLANNING

Proper estate planning requires a lot of forward thinking and financial discipline. However, the payoff for good estate planning is huge. Individuals not only enjoy a better and more comfortable retirement, but they may also be able to leave behind assets to loved ones.

Recently, Texas Governor Rick Perry came under scrutiny for drawing retirement income from his state pension plan, but he defended his decision by simply calling it good estate planning.

Perry receives around $6,500 each month as part of his retirement income from the state. It may come as a surprise to some, but Perry and his campaign staff say it is perfectly legal.

Perry has been governor for the last 11 years, and previously served in other capacities with the state.

The governor’s income was unveiled after financial disclosure forms were released. In addition to the state pension, he also makes $150,000 a year as governor. He also has assets in real estate, trust funds and money market funds.

From the financial disclosure forms, it is clear that Governor Perry has taken the right steps to plan for his future. He has accumulated a sizable fortune for his family. With the right estate planning, he can be assured that his family will be provided for when he is gone.

Even those who aren’t running for public office would do well to begin estate planning. Estate planning isn’t only for the rich, and allows individuals to properly plan where their assets will go when they die. Although it is difficult to think about death, planning for the future is a wise decision.

Source: Star-Telegram, “Perry drawing five-figure retirement pay from Texas,” Maria Recio, Dec. 16, 2011

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EDUCATION FUNDING MAY IMPACT ESTATE PLANNING IN TEXAS

Even the relatively young and healthy should consider taking the time to think about estate planning. It is often beneficial to do so because it not only prepares one for the unthinkable, but is also a good financial management tool.

For those Texas residents who are currently working on estate plans, or are thinking about doing so, the present troubles faced by the education system may bear watching as they may lead to changes in property taxes. That, in turn, may impact how you decide to allocate your real estate assets.

Last May, Texas legislators passed a budget that provided $53.8 billion for school funding. Although that seems like a large amount of money, many Texas schools have previously been left underfunded.

While we all want Texas students to have the best educations possible, school funding needs to come from somewhere. At the moment, about 47 percent of all school funding comes from property taxes. These taxes are collected at the local level, meaning that more affluent counties have more money to spend per pupil than less well off areas. To address the problem, a program has been in place for the past ten years that redirects a portion of property taxes from wealthier to poorer counties. As an alternative, some have called for property taxes to be collected at the state level.

It is unknown what will happen to property tax rates in the future and those that are planning an estate need to be aware of the changes. If property is left to heirs, families need to sure that those heirs are capable of paying the necessary taxes. Although estate planning is an essential tool for many families, more thought may need to put into the planning to be sure assets are distributed responsibly.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Texas School Finance Fix Eludes Perry as Students Do Without Art,” David Mildenberg, Dec. 1, 2011

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