IN MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS
No one really likes to contemplate end-of-life issues, but life is full of uncertainties. No matter your age, you need to plan for unforeseen circumstances such as your own incapacitation, which can leave you incapable of making decisions for yourself or your loved ones. You also need to plan for your loved ones’ welfare when your time is up.
A will is often the first step in planning for the future, but wills must go through probate court, and in Texas, that process can be long, messy, and costly. Creating a living trust, sometimes along with other types of trusts, can not only allow your estate to avoid probate but also facilitate a fairly seamless transfer of assets to your beneficiaries.
If you reside in Missouri City, Texas, or in the neighboring communities of Sugar Land, Katy, Friendswood, Pearland, or Fresno, contact me — K.E. Bradley, Attorney & Counselor at Law — to discuss your options and get help in creating an estate plan that gives you and your family the ultimate peace of mind.
TYPES OF TRUSTS
The most basic and often utilized of all trusts in estate planning is called a living trust, which means that you create it while you’re alive and transfer your assets into it. Assets placed into a trust avoid probate court entirely.
In creating this instrument, you, as the trustor or grantor, name a trustee to manage your assets and to distribute them according to your wishes when you are gone. You can even name yourself as the trustee with a clause that transfers that role to another person should you become incapacitated or pass away.
A living (or inter vivos) trust is revocable. A revocable trust can be changed or amended as you see fit, or even discarded altogether. You can add or delete items to and from the trust, or change beneficiaries, whenever you like.
Another option is an irrevocable trust. Unlike a living trust, an irrevocable trust is basically cast in stone from the moment you create it. The assets placed in the trust will stay there forever, and your named trustee will be in charge of managing them.
The main advantages of an irrevocable trust are that it provides more legal protections against creditors and, in some instances, can help lower taxes. Since Texas has no estate tax, and the federal estate tax doesn’t kick in until one’s assets reach approximately $12 million, an irrevocable trust in Texas is mainly a hedge against potential legal assaults on your assets.
SHARED AND INDIVIDUAL TRUSTS
Living trusts can also be individual or shared. If a married couple has jointly-owned property, a shared trust will automatically transfer that property to the surviving partner when the other passes away. An individual trust can be used to protect any property you obtained before marriage or during marriage by gift or inheritance. The trust can then name who receives that property.
Even if you set up a living trust, you still should have a will, which can cover assets not specified in the trust or acquired after it was drafted. A will is also needed if you want to name a guardian for your minor children, which a trust cannot do.
THE PROCESS OF CREATING A TRUST
Estate planning is generally not something you want to undertake without seeking qualified legal advice, so the first step is to consult with an estate planning attorney. I will certainly guide you every step of the way and explain your options to you in detail before you finalize your trust.
Here are the steps and main considerations in creating a living trust in Texas:
Decide whether it’s an individual or shared trust
Decide what property to include in the trust
Name a successor trustee, who will take charge of the trust when you become incapacitated or pass away
Name the trust’s beneficiaries — who gets what
Create the trust document
Sign the document in front of a notary public
Change the title of your property placed in trust — house, cars, etc. — to reflect that it is now owned by the trust
WHAT ASSETS SHOULD BE PLACED IN A TRUST?
You should place everything of value into your trust. This includes, of course, homes, land, vehicles, stocks, bonds, precious metals, interest in any businesses, patents and copyrights, heirlooms, antiques, and stamp or coin collections.
Insurance policies and retirement plans that name a beneficiary will transfer to that party automatically and will not have to go through probate.
THE VALUE OF A SKILLED ATTORNEY
A living trust and an irrevocable trust are just two of the different types of trusts that can help you plan for the future and prepare for uncertainties. Both allow you to name a trusted individual to handle your affairs when you cannot and oversee the distribution of assets to your beneficiaries. They also enable you to avoid the probate process that is required when you die with only a will.
My firm has helped countless others like you explore their estate planning options and arrive at the optimal solution to care for everyone involved. Remember, creating a trust not only avoids probate but also expedites the entire inheritance process.
TRUSTS ATTORNEY SERVING
MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS
At my firm — K.E. Bradley Attorney & Counselor at Law — we can discuss your estate planning options, including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, advanced care directives, and more. I am proud to serve clients in Missouri City, Texas, and the surrounding areas of Sugar Land, Katy, Friendswood, Pearland, and Fresno. Reach out today to start planning for tomorrow.