you have not yet thought about how you will protect yourself and your family if you were to fall seriously ill or pass away.
Do you know what will happen to your family when you’re gone? Do you want a judge to make a decision you can make yourself? Most people don’t. But unfortunately, that’s what it comes down to. Protecting your loved ones from an unpredictable future is the ultimate act of love. Regardless of the size of your estate, a trusted Houston estate planning attorney at our family law firm can create a detailed plan to safeguard your family’s future and give you peace of mind.
When you pass away or become incapacitated, Texas estate law has guidelines for who will get your property when you die and who will take care of you if you can’t take of yourself. These laws are known as intestate succession laws. Intestate succession is the court’s process of determining who will receive your estate and who will be appointed to make decisions on your behalf. For example, if you are single and pass away without a will, your property will automatically be divided amongst your children. If you are married, your spouse will inherit all of your community property if your children are also your spouse’s children.
But what if you have children from another marriage? What if you remarried? What if you’re separated? This is where things become problematic, and – quite honestly, family feuds begin, and an experienced probate lawyer becomes essential. The simplest and most effective way to sidestep any potential court battles among family members is to take the time to outline what you want to happen after you are gone with an estate planning attorney.
To fully explain how Stafford Law Firm sets itself apart in estate planning matters, we must first go through what you would experience if you were to work with a traditional estate planning lawyer. From our own experience within this industry, it’s common for someone to have a seriously lackluster relationship with their estate planning lawyer in Houston. If you were to work with a traditional team of family estate planning attorneys, you could expect to have an experience that more or less sticks to the following playbook.
You find an estate planning attorney who seems smart and capable, and based on their rapid-fire legalese, they appear to know what they’re doing. You’ll nod along and answer the quick questions they ask you. You know you need an estate plan to protect your family, so you have your lawyer draw up the cookie-cutter documents they suggested so you can sign them and be on your way.
Later, you’ll get back home and put your copy of the estate plan documents in a safe or a special folder. With a sigh of relief, you’ll check the “family estate plan” off your to-do list. But now what? Chances are you won’t think twice about your estate planning lawyer – until something happens. Maybe a couple of years later, you’ll decide to have another child or sell a significant piece of real estate. You need to have a relationship with your estate planning attorney to realize that these life changes need to be updated in your documents.
Even worse, if something horrible happens to you or your spouse, the beneficiary designations your lawyer slapped together may not align with your current wishes. Without the proper estate planning strategies and a full understanding of your plan and when things need to be updated, a scenario like this could devastate your desired heirs. Someone passing away or becoming incapacitated is the worst time to discover that estate planning documents are incorrect or outdated.
Working with trusted estate planning lawyers who will take the time necessary to get to know you and your needs is the best way to avoid this unfortunate (and all-too-common) scenario in estate planning.
Here at Stafford Law Firm, we do things differently. We work hard to avoid unnecessary legalese and aim to make you as confident as possible throughout the estate planning process for families. Your estate plan should also evolve as the years go by. It should meet the needs of you and your loved ones with every life change you experience. The right estate planning attorney will keep your plan up to date and current with the times, so no matter what, you’re always prepared for life’s “what ifs.”
You want to keep your family safe from heartbreaking legal conflict. This is our goal as well.
One key factor that differentiates Stafford Law Firm from other Houston estate planning lawyers is that we clearly understand that most families are forever growing and changing. We know your family’s importance to you, but we also understand that life keeps you busy! You want to live a life full of happiness and prosperity; we’re here to help you achieve that. To make the best decisions about your family and future, you must first feel confident about your estate plan.
We’ll walk you through all of your options for:
We take pride in our unique approach to family estate planning. This may be your first dive into the process. You may have worked on previous plans with other estate planning attorneys. You might even have DIY documents you found online. Wherever you are in estate planning, we’ll help you take control of your future.
Whenever you reach out to our office, you can be sure you won’t need to wait for hours or days to get a response. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we pride ourselves on being easily accessible and responding to all client inquiries as soon as possible. If you need a more thorough call regarding a change you need to make or have questions about your estate plan, we will happily set up a time as soon as possible to discuss your needs. We never want you to be stuck in a loop of voicemails and phone tags—especially when something requires immediate attention. The fact of the matter is, one day, you will need to fall back on your estate plan. Whether it is simply to pass on your family’s wealth after you pass or something even more heartbreaking like needing a new guardian appointment for your children, having a thorough and customized plan in place will help ensure your family and your future are well taken care of. Reach out today for a free consultation.
If you have kids that are minors, they’re going to need a lot of help growing up. A well-established estate plan ensures that no matter what happens, your children will be taken care of by the people you choose and in the way you desire. The scary truth is nearly 70% of parents do NOT have proper estate planning strategies established for their children if the worst should happen. Of the ones that do, almost a third have not done so correctly. Schedule a planning session today to ensure your child’s future is secure.
Whether your children are newborns, nearing adulthood, or have special needs, we can help you create a plan to ensure they NEVER have to go without a loving caregiver.
Without a plan in place, here are some things that could happen.
If there are no surviving parents of the children, they are often placed in the custody of unfamiliar people — strangers. Even after parents have drafted a will, it can be some time before authorities determine where the children should be placed.
Custody could be granted to a person you would have NEVER wanted to care for your children. A family member or relative may appear to have the best intentions but are not where you want your children to be.
Without an estate plan, your children’s future will be determined by a judge who knows very little about you or your family.
Disputes arise among family members fighting over the guardianship of a child. This makes for a tiring custody battle in court.
If your estate is without asset protection and enters the probate and estate administration process, probate issues can cause you to lose as much as 5% of your asset value in court costs and other legal fees. That’s before your loved ones are hit with estate or inheritance taxes. Probate law matters can also delay the disbursement of your property and diminish what’s passed on to your children. The truth is a lot of estate planning attorneys don’t foresee these issues. They aren’t often considering what is best for your children or their care.
The first thing you need is a Kid’s Protection Plan. It’s a set of instructions or legal documents that can be referenced if a child’s parents suddenly pass. You can keep it in a safe place in your home, with another person, or even in your wallet for faster reference. If you’re in an accident, the Kid’s Protection Plan will help quickly inform authorities of your plan for your children. This helps ensure your children are never taken into the custody of a stranger, Child Protective Services, or anyone else who you would not want your children with.
Your children’s future doesn’t have to be determined by a judge. You can name legal guardians for free within minutes. Visit kidsprotectionplan.com. If you need ANY help planning for your children in the event of your incapacity or death — Stafford Law Firm is here for you.
Our estate lawyers offer various legal services to our clients in Houston, TX, including:
Many people fall under the assumption that if they don’t have what they consider to be extreme wealth, then they don’t have an estate to speak of. This is not the case. Everyone has an estate, and creating an estate plan is the only way to protect the people you love and save them from the stress and heartbreak of court after you have passed.
Do you know what would happen to your assets if you were to pass away tomorrow? If your answer is no, it’s time to put some asset protection in place. Will Stafford is an experienced Houston estate planning attorney who understands the importance of ensuring your loved ones are protected and provided for. Protecting your loved ones and ensuring your last wishes are honored can’t wait. Learn more about the estate planning process today by contacting our estate planning law office to schedule a consultation in Houston, TX.
Many people fall under the assumption that if they don't have what they consider to be extreme wealth, then they don't have an estate. This is not the case. Everyone has an estate, and creating an estate plan is the only way to truly protect the people you love and save them from the stress and heartbreak of court after you have passed.
Do you know what would happen to your assets if you were to pass away tomorrow? If your answer is no, it’s time to make a plan. Will Stafford is an experienced Houston estate planning attorney who understands the importance of ensuring your loved ones are protected and provided for.
you have not yet thought about how you will protect yourself and your family if you were to fall seriously ill or pass away.
you have minor children and you are concerned about what may happen to them if you and/or your spouse were to become seriously injured or pass away unexpectedly.
you are worried about how everything you have worked so hard for over your lifetime will be passed on in the event of your death.
The value of an estate plan is obvious - knowing that you and your family are protected. In order to truly understand the benefits of a quality estate plan, however, you need to look at what could happen if things go wrong...
You worked with an estate planning lawyer in the past who failed to name enough beneficiaries or personal representatives in your plan. You now find yourself in a situation where you need to hire a new attorney just to rework your plan that was in place.
You chose an estate planning lawyer solely because they were inexpensive. Years later, you find out that they rushed through your documents and now you need to hire a much more expensive lawyer to sort through the mess and fix everything.
An aging parent or close family member passes away only for you to discover they did not have an estate plan in place. You are now left to figure out the details surrounding assets, debts, medical costs, palliative care, and even funeral costs.
You put together an estate plan yourself that you believe probably covers the basics. When you pass away, however, your heirs discover that important steps were done incorrectly, and now the wrong people end up inheriting your estate.
You created an estate plan with an experienced attorney years ago that has not been updated since. Failing to update your estate plan will mean that your intended beneficiaries will be left to sort through the mess left behind after you pass away.
You have a will in place but no documents dictating how things should be handled should you become incapacitated. If something should happen unexpectedly, you may be unable to express your wishes at that time.
A will (also known as last will and testament) is merely one piece of a comprehensive estate plan. For almost every single person, a last will and testament will not be sufficient for their estate planning needs. An experienced estate planning lawyer will be able to help you work through all the pieces of an estate plan (such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, etc) and help make sure that you have everything you need in place.
Estate planning, in its most basic definition, is the act of preparing one’s estate (their financial assets, property, debts, etc) for whatever unforeseen events the future may hold. Most estate plans focus on how assets should be distributed to a person’s heirs in the event of their passing. Additionally, estate planning should cover instructions on how to handle a person’s medical and financial well-being in the event they become incapacitated and are unable to express these wishes themself.
After major life events like marriage, separation/divorce and the birth of a child, you should consider updating your estate plan. The acquisition of new assets is an opportune time to meet with a Houston estate planning attorney to make sure your plan still suits your needs and the needs of your loved ones. An outdated estate plan can result in your assets ending up in the wrong hands.
No two estate plans will be exactly the same, because no two persons’ situations will be exactly the same. That being said, there are a few main components that all estate plans should generally contain, at a minimum. These include a will, a durable power of attorney, and a trust.
Will Stafford is a Houston-based attorney with xx years of experience in estate planning. He assists clients in setting up a thorough and well thought out estate plan so that their wishes can be carried out in the event of their passing. This includes leaving assets to beneficiaries and putting measures in place to help your family avoid stressful legal processes after you’re gone.
Regardless of your age, you need an estate plan if you have attained assets and you have loved ones to protect. It’s difficult to think about, but unexpected incapacity or death can happen at any age. With Stafford Law as your long-term Houston estate planning attorney, you can always update your plan as your life evolves.
With so many do-it-yourself estate planning services, you may be wondering if it’s really necessary to hire a lawyer. While the DIY route may seem to save you money right now, it can have expensive and disastrous consequences in the long run. By not hiring a Houston estate planning attorney, you risk having an incomplete or inadequate estate plan, or one that doesn’t hold up in court. This creates a financial and emotional burden for your grieving loved ones and may result in your assets reaching unintended beneficiaries.