Wills, Trusts, Probate & Estate Planning for The Woodlands and Houston, Texas
Planning your estate is a vital step toward realizing your personal and financial goals. Just as maintaining a retirement account, purchasing life insurance, contributing to a college savings plan, and managing your investments are important for your future, Estate Planning is fundamental to securing your overall financial legacy and gaining peace of mind.
At Garg & Associates, PC, we understand that your Estate Planning portfolio will include some of the most important documents you will ever create for yourself and your family. Our Wills & Trusts attorneys are here to help you in drafting personalized Wills, Trusts and Advance Directives to protect and provide for your family's future in the event of your incapacity or death. Each document will be tailored to your specific circumstances to ensure achievement of both your lifetime and testamentary wishes.
Whether your assets are moderate or you have a multi-million dollar estate, the Estate Planning attorneys at Garg & Associates will provide you with the expert planning and personalized attention that you deserve. We conduct and implement planning for both taxable and nontaxable estates, regardless of whether your primary objective is naming a guardian for minor children or achieving ultimate estate tax savings. The scope and complexity of your Will or Trust will depend entirely on your circumstances and your desires.
If you have already executed a Will and Advance Directives or implemented a Trust during your lifetime, it is also important to have these documents reviewed on a regular basis. Perhaps you have experienced a marriage, divorce, birth, or substantial fluctuation in assets since you signed your documents. Perhaps your documents were created many years ago or in a state other than Texas. Changing federal and state tax laws will also dramatically impact the propriety and accuracy of your Will or Trust. It is imperative to visit with the Estate Planning attorneys at Garg & Associates upon a change in taxation laws or your personal circumstances to reassess and modify your documents as necessary.
At Garg & Associates, we have experience in a multitude of Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning matters, including but not limited to the following:
- Last Will and Testaments. Your Will is a vital instrument that provides for the distribution of your property upon your death. If you do not create a valid Will during your lifetime, the State of Texas’not you’will determine how your probate assets will be allocated. There is no flexibility in Texas’ default distribution laws. Thus it is of the utmost importance that you personally make such key decisions as who will care for your children or inherit your hard-earned estate by executing a Last Will and Testament.
- Testamentary Trusts. You may choose to create a Trust within your Will as a way to manage assets for a spouse or children upon your death. For example, if it is your desire that your children only receive their inheritance upon reaching a certain age or obtaining a college degree, a Testamentary Trust is a tool you may use to achieve control over when, and under what circumstances, your heirs will receive their share of your estate.
- Pour-Over Wills. A Pour-Over Will is a special type of Will that is often used in conjunction with a Trust. As its name suggests, a Pour-Over Will allocates any property not otherwise disposed of by your estate plan to a Trust already in existence. It is often used as a safeguard if, for example, assets exist at your death that were not transferred during your lifetime into a Living Trust: the Pour-Over Will serves as a mechanism to ’pour’ those assets into the Trust so that they will be distributed according to the terms of the Trust instrument.
- Statutory Durable Powers of Attorney. A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to step into your shoes and manage your financial affairs upon your disability or incapacity without the need for a court-appointed guardianship. A Power of Attorney generally grants very broad powers, allowing this pre-appointed person to conduct every designated aspect of your personal business in the same way that you could.
- Medical Powers of Attorney. When you execute a Medical Power of Attorney, you designate another person to make health care decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. This document is very useful in alleviating burden and conflict among family members, as it names a specific agent to authorize medical treatment on your behalf. It is imperative that a qualified attorney assist in the drafting and execution of a Medical Power of Attorney to ensure strict compliance with Texas law.
- Directive to Physicians. A Directive to Physicians, or ’Living Will,’ is an instrument by which you may make your wishes known with regard to artificial life support. In the event of a terminal condition, you will relieve your loved ones of a significant burden by executing a Directive pre-designating your feelings toward artificial life sustaining measures. Just as with a Statutory Durable or Medical Power of Attorney, it is essential to consult qualified legal counsel prior to signing a Directive to Physicians.
- HIPPA Releases/Authorizations. Due to the strict privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a HIPPA Release is necessary to allow for the disclosure of your medical records and information. Even designating an agent through a Medical Power of Attorney will not authorize such agent to access your medical information; thus it is vital to execute both a Medical Power of Attorney and a HIPAA Release to ensure your agent’s ability to competently make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Estate Tax Planning. If the size of your estate causes estate taxes to be a concern, the Estate Planning attorneys at Garg & Associates are available to counsel you on various techniques available for incorporation in your estate plan. We will advise you on the use of tax-saving vehicles such as bypass trusts, marital deduction planning, qualified disclaimers, irrevocable trusts and other methods of preserving wealth for future generations.
- Lifetime Gifting and Gift Tax Planning. Lifetime gifting can be an excellent tool for transferring wealth to children or grandchildren, as well as for reducing the size of a taxable estate. Various techniques are available for the optimal use of your per-donee annual exclusion amount, which will allow you to provide for the next generation while simultaneously saving wealth transfer taxes.
- Planning for Legal Permanent Residents and Nonresident Aliens. The Estate Planning attorneys at Garg & Associates conduct both simple and tax-driven planning for noncitizen residents of the United States and individuals residing in foreign nations who own property in the US. In creating Wills for noncitizens, special attention must be given to domestic and foreign tax and probate laws, as well as to applicable Estate and Gift Tax Treaties. Our attorneys are well-versed in methods used in Estate Planning for LPRs and nonresident aliens, including the use of Qualified Domestic Trusts (’QDOTs’).
- Revocable Inter Vivos Trusts (’Living Trusts’). A Living Trust is a legal arrangement whereby the trust creator transfers property to a trustee, who holds such property for the benefit of ’beneficiaries.’ Living Trusts can be excellent vehicles for estate and gift tax planning, maintaining family privacy, planning for incapacity, and alleviating the need for probate in many circumstances. Further, these Trusts allow for a great deal of control over the creator’s assets, both during lifetime and after death.
- Irrevocable Trusts. As its name suggests, an Irrevocable Trust cannot be changed or revoked. These trusts are most often seen in the form of an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, which is a tool designed to remove the proceeds of an insurance policy from the estate of the insured. Thus Irrevocable Trusts provide great benefits in estate tax planning, and require meticulous drafting in order to be effective.
- Analysis of Holographic Wills. A Holographic Will is a will written entirely in the testator’s own handwriting. There are certain requirements that must be met in order for this type of will to be valid under Texas law. The attorneys at Garg & Associates are available to review and advise on the validity of Holographic Wills in order to avoid pitfalls at the time of probate.
If you or someone you know is need of family law services, please do not hesitate to call Garg & Associates at 281-362-2865 for a consultation today or use our Contact Form.