Estate Planning

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Dedicated Guidance In Protecting Yourself And Your Assets For The Future

As well as handling matters in the event of the death of a loved one.

Planning for the future is something that is on everyone’s minds, though we often put it off. However, it is an important step to take whether you are nearing retirement or starting your career. In addition, after the death of a loved one, many clients are unaware of the process that must be undertaken to pay creditors and transfer property appropriately.

At Scott, Ray, Pemberton & Goll, PLLC, we work with clients to protect their assets and legacy through estate planning, and in the event of the death of a loved one we work diligently to formulate the best strategy to handle the decedent’s estate.  Our lawyers use more than 40 years of experience when helping you select the best and most economical estate planning tools and probate process that suit your needs, interests and goals. We understand that the process can be difficult and emotional. Our firm prides itself on our compassionate approach and skilled guidance.

Estate Planning Tools

There are a wide variety of estate planning tools, including designations and documents, that can be used to protect you, such as:

  • Wills: Having a last will and testament drafted is one of the most important steps you can take in estate planning. Your will dictates who is to receive your estate assets and which assets they are to receive. It can also detail other aspects of how you wish your estate to be handled in the event of your death.
  • Trusts: There are a number of different types of trusts that can be used to accomplish different goals. Some types of trusts include revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, charitable trusts, life insurance trusts and more. These trusts typically protect assets and property for your future use or the benefit of your heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Powers of attorney: Medical, financial and durable powers of attorney can be implemented so someone else can make decisions and transactions on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so yourself. In the power of attorney document, you name the trusted individual or individuals who can act in this capacity for you, and the timeframe for which they will hold this power.
  • Advance health care directives: To ensure you receive the medical care you would wish for, an advance health care directive can be composed. This document details the lengths you would wish doctors to go to save your life or keep you alive, as well as other specifics that would need to be communicated in case you could not communicate them due to injury, illness or incapacitation.
  • Transfer on Death Deeds and Lady Bird Deeds: Texas allows the transfer of real property upon the death of a loved one to a beneficiary named in a specific type of deed. Transfer on death deeds and lady bird deeds are a method in some instances to transfer real property which may avoid the time and expense of probate.

Probate And Estate Administration

In addition to working through the estate planning process, we handle matters that arise after the death of a loved one. The processes of probate and estate administration are designed to address the specific estate of the deceased, handle creditors, and distribute the estate assets. Whether you are a named executor or beneficiary, we can assist throughout these processes, as they are often confusing, complicated, and could become contested. As with estate planning, there are a variety of approaches to handling an estate and transferring property after the death of a loved one, such as:

  • Probate of a Will: The probate of a decedent’s last will is a legal proceeding whereby a court of proper jurisdiction and venue authenticates the will. If the decedent’s estate requires administration, the court also appoints an executor to handle the estate. If the estate does not require administration, the will may be admitted into probate as a Muniment of Title only, which is effective to transfer property to the beneficiaries named in the will.
  • Determination of Heirship: Without a will, an interested party may request the court to declare who are the legal heirs of the decedent and the heir’s respective share of the decedent’s estate. Like the probate of a will, a determination of heirship may be with or without administration of the estate depending on the circumstances at the time of the decedent’s death.
  • Small Estate Affidavit: Designed to handle small estates, this may be an option to transfer property when the decedent died without a will.
  • Affidavit of Heirship: In some instances, we can use an affidavit of heirship which is a nonjudicial process to transfer real property.
  • Family Settlement Agreement: Settlement agreements between family members and heirs of an estate are also good options when there is some uncertainty involved in the case. These agreements may be used in conjunction with or without other approaches to settling a decedent’s estate.
  • Non-Probate Transfers: In some instances, assets of a decedent may be transferred via non-probate transfers such as a trust or via contract which is common with many financial institutions and insurance companies.

Learn More About Your Options

Take the first step in planning and get in touch with us today. Call our offices at 972-525-5872 or 903-454-0044, or contact us online.