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Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

HANDLING ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES BEFORE THEY’RE A PROBLEM

As readers of our blog know, estate planning often requires a lot of preparation and a lot of maintenance in order for everything to go relatively smoothly upon death.  Even the best of planned estates can hold their challenges. But as we’ve said in past posts, the better prepared your assets are upon your passing, the less likely your heirs will have these difficulties.

But to ensure smooth sailing, it’s important for people here in Texas, and the rest of the country for that matter, to remember that it’s easier to fix mistakes while you’re still able to.  And as many lawyers will tell you, these mistakes in estate planning can happen to anyone–even the professionals.

Most people never think about drafting a will or establishing a trust until they reach retirement age, the unfortunate truth about life is that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  That’s why we always stress the importance of having a plan in place.  But it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.  Although there are a lot of terms and laws to remember, knowing these before you speak to an attorney can actually help you in the long run.  Afterall, even professionals can make mistakes and it would be worth your while to be able to catch that mistake now rather than leave it to your bereaved after your passing.

While not having a plan is likely the worst-case scenario, having your loved ones find out a mistake was made during your planning process can often times be just as detrimental.  This can lead to arguments, family rifts, and even litigation.  Avoiding these unnecessary headaches now by double checking things before you pass can really save time and money for your family and loved ones down the road.

Source: Fox News, “Duck Estate Planning Fiascos Before It’s Too Late,” Sheyna Steiner, May 13, 2013

Continue reading: HANDLING ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES BEFORE THEY’RE A PROBLEM

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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

Continue reading: EDUCATION FUNDING MAY IMPACT ESTATE PLANNING IN TEXAS

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