LUBBOCK, AMARILLO, MIDLAND, ODESSA, ABILENE, AND WEST TEXAS WILLS, TRUSTS, ESTATE PLANNING, ELDER LAW & PROBATE ATTORNEYS

1. ELDER LAW LEGAL SERVICES FOR SENIOR CLIENTS IN LUBBOCK, AMARILLO, MIDLAND, ODESSA, ABILENE, AND WEST TEXAS

The Moster Law Firm provides comprehensive estate planning services for elderly clients in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas who require advice to protect their property and prepare for potential life changing events which could cause a major depletion of their assets. It is particularly important to consider Medicaid planning in advance and we are prepared to offer clients a range of legal options including the creation of specialized trusts to safeguard assets. A major objective is to protect the assets from third parties including Medicaid, Healthcare Providers, business partners, and family members. The critical issues addressed by the Firm include:

  • The Formation of Specialized Trusts to Protect assets from creditors in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas.
  • The Formation of Specialized Trusts to provide for Long-Term Care Planning in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas.
  • The use of Powers of Attorney and risks presented if improperly drafted or abused by family members in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas.
  • Legal advice regarding the need for assisted living or nursing home care in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas.
  • Legal advice regarding the use of Medical Powers of Attorney and whether they are in the best interest of the client in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas.
  • Transferring assets as a method of estate planning in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas. This is highly problematic and should not be done without the advice of experienced counsel.

The Firm provides a complementary consultation with clients to discuss Elder Law Issues in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas and how their estate planning goals can be achieved.

2. ESTATE PLANNING SERVICES IN LUBBOCK, AMARILLO, MIDLAND, ODESSA, ABILENE, AND WEST TEXAS

The Moster Law Firm provides a full range of legal services to assist our clients in estate planning. We meet with prospective estate and probate clients at our law offices in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene to discuss estate planning options and recommendations to address client needs.

Unlike many law firms which simply regurgitate basic forms, our job is to listen to the clients’ concerns and to work collaboratively on the generation of legal documents specifically designed to achieve the estate planning objectives. We understand that our clients are coming to us for legal advice on how best to achieve their estate goals whether they are seeking a Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, or Abilene Will, Trust, Living Trust, Testamentary Trust, Medical Power of Attorney, or Medical Directives. We are in the business of providing concrete answers and practical recommendations as to the legal options available, whether it is a Will, trust, or some combination. Our estate clients in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene then determine what actions they wish us to take. Once this is determined, we immediately implement the estate goals by creating the estate documents for review and signature.

3. THE ESTATE PLANNING OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO OUR CLIENTS IN LUBBOCK, AMARILLO, MIDLAND, ODESSA, ABILENE, AND WEST TEXAS

1. Last Will & Testament

What is a will?

The Last Will & Testament or Will is a legal document which determines how your assets are to be distributed when you die. It is essential that estate clients in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas follow the requirements under Texas Law to assure that their Will is valid and enforceable. An error in the preparation of a Will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, or Abilene could lead to the instrument being invalidated or challenged in court. The job of your estate attorney is to identify all of the assets to be covered by the Will and to draft the proper and enforceable clauses to make sure that the property is distributed as intended by the client. The language must be clear and unambiguous and compliant with Texas Law.

Am I required to appoint an executor of my will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

Yes. An executor must be designated and appointed to carry out the duties under the will and provision made for the appointment of a successor executor in the event such individual predeceases the client or decides not to carry out responsibilities.

What happens if I die without a will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

If you fail to draft a will, Texas Law will decide who receives a distribution of your assets, not you. This is known as intestate law and can be highly problematic as your intended beneficiaries may not receive any distribution under Texas Law or a substantial reduction. Critically, the legal costs of dealing with distribution intestate can be substantial causing unnecessary expense, delay, and frustration. It is not uncommon for family members or third parties to fight over their entitlement to assets as nothing is spelled out in a prior document. Invariably, these cases are difficult and could have been easily avoided in the first instance by having a law firm draft a Will. It is that simple.

Are my Assets Subject to Taxation Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

This is an issue which is often overlooked by Estate Attorney who do not practice in the area of Estate Tax Law. Our job is to provide concrete and common sense advice in the tax area so that clients can make informed decisions and minimize tax exposure. Our clients are advised of tax implications from the very beginning of our relationship so there are no surprises. We hate legal surprises! Don’t you?

How Long Will a Will Be Valid in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

That’s an easy one. Indefinitely – so long as you don’t revoke or amend it.

Can I change my Will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

Absolutely – and clients do this quite often. However, it must be done correctly so that the changes are enforceable and you avoid the problematic situation where multiple wills have been executed. The key is revise seamlessly so that there are no legal questions as to which provisions will be enforceable.

What Kind of Questions do Clients typically have in the area of Estate Planning in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

Questions and issues presented to the Moster Law Firm are as varied as our clients. Here is a brief sampling of client questions which are frequently encountered:

  • Can I disinherit a family member in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I provide for unequal distribution to family members in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I designate a family member or friend to distribute personal property in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What is the best way to distribute my gun collection in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I prevent my children from contesting the will after I pass and avoiding a family feud? in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I create a trust within the body of the Will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • How do I lower the costs of administration of my Will after I die in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Are Wills necessary for small estates in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What can I do to avoid probate completely in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What should I do about insurance policies and retirement benefits in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Should I add beneficiary names to personal bank accounts in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I keep my executed Will sealed by the Court so it cannot be viewed in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What tax considerations should I be aware of in preparing a Will or trust in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What is the difference between a Will and living trust in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What is a testamentary trust?
  • What is the best way to provide for the education of minor children or grandchildren in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I require my grandkids to attend a particular college (hint – “Guns Up”)?
  • Is there a way to reduce tax liability with regard to the distribution of my assets in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I revoke a Will once it is set up in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • How easily can I revise my Will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Is my Will enforceable in other states?
  • How does my Will affect my ownership in a Limited Liability Company or Corporation in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Are all Wills probated in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Is there a process to expedite probate at a lower cost in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • Can I require that particular property be sold after I die in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?
  • What happens if I die without a will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, and Abilene?

4. Probate Process in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas

The presentation of the Will to the court in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas starts the probate process which must be followed under Texas Law. The Moster Law Firm probates Wills in courts throughout Texas with an emphasis in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene and West Texas. The requirements for probating a will are strict and must be followed without exception including proper notice to parties, pleadings filed with the Probate Court, inventory list, appointment of a trustee, and other items. Keep in mind that the property of the decedent cannot be accessed until the probate process is completed as all assets are subject to the jurisdiction of the probate court. The only exception are assets which are not included in the Will, for example, insurance policies, bank accounts, etc. The Firm will provide advice to clients on this issue which can seem confusing to non-lawyers.

In situations where the estate is small with minimal assets, Texas Law allows for an expedited process known as muniment of title. To qualify, the party must show that there are no outstanding debts and that the total assets are not substantial.

5. Probate Litigation in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas

Unfortunately, conflicts between family members and beneficiaries occur frequently during the probate process which can cause complications, costs, and heartburn – to say the least. Typically, a family member challenges the distribution bequest in the Will and hires an attorney to champion his or her cause. Lawyers for the disgruntled beneficiary can raise a battery of claims which could reduce or eliminate a client’s right to distribution unless defended in Court.

What claims can be raised to challenge a Will in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

The challenging party can argue that the Will is not enforceable because an error was made in the preparation of the document. If so, Texas Law, not the Will itself, would determine who gets what. Other arguments include undue influence, incapacity, or the presence of other documents which purport to be valid modifications of the Will itself.

What is undue influence when raised as a claim in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

This relates to pressure or control exerted by a beneficiary to force distribution of assets under the Will. Typically, the testator is impaired or aged and relies on a third party such as a caregiver for daily support and services. The third party then exploits this relationship for personal gain. This abuse of power is known as undue influence.

Can the court set aside a bequest which resulted from undue influence?

Yes. All of that is part of the litigation process and will require counsel to file the appropriate papers, obtain a hearing date, and put on evidence.

What is incapacity when raised as a claim in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

A testator must have mental capacity to write a Will. The legal standard, however, is exceedingly easy to meet and simply requires that the testator have a basic understanding of the scope of her assets and how the property is to be distributed. Incapacity becomes a major issue when the testator was laboring under a severe mental illness or impairment when the Will was prepared, i.e., Alzheimer, Dementia, etc.

Can the court determine that incapacity is not an issue?

Absolutely. The process is the same as would apply to undue influence above described.

6. Trust Agreements in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas

A trust is a legal relationship where property is held for the benefit of another. The creator of the Trust (settlor) appoints a Trustee who hold the property for the benefit of a third party (beneficiary). Many of our clients in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas retain the Firm to advise them on the type of trust to be formed and the drafting of the trust instrument. The trust document provides for the distribution of assets while the owner of the trust (settlor) is alive or after she passes. Although a trust is legally distinct from a will, it can be created by the will itself, or constitute a separate document which stand apart from the will.

How is a Trust Different than a Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

The Trust can be implemented while the settlor is alive and also provide for the specialized need to beneficiaries such as minor children or individuals with disabilities.

Can I Revoke a Trust Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

That depends on the type of trust which is formed. Irrevocable trusts are set up for the benefit of a third party and cannot be revoked or terminated once formed by the settlor. The benefit of irrevocable trusts is to prevent creditors from attaching the assets with respect to a debt which might be owed by the settlor. These are known as spendthrift trusts.

Can a Trust be Revised?

Yes – unless it is set up as a spendthrift trust. The settlor always has the right to revoke, terminate, or add new terms to the trust instrument.

Do I need a Trustee?

Yes. The Trustee is a critical component of the trust as he is responsible for managing the trust and implementing its provisions.

Can a bank serve as Trustee Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

Yes. It is not required that a trustee be a living person.

What is the advantage of using a bank as a trustee Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

This is important when the Trust is intended to operate over a long period of time which can exceed the lifespan of an individual. The bank serves as an institutional trustee which can perform estate functions over extended periods and lifetimes of the beneficiaries.

Does a Trustee get paid?

Yes. Most Trust have provisions which allow the Trustee to be paid reasonable compensation for services.

Can a beneficiary attempt to get more than her share?

That depends on how the trust was drafted. The typical answer is “No”, unless the language of the Trust gives additional rights to the beneficiary.

Does a Trust Terminate?

Yes. Trusts include terms which govern when they end – typically upon the beneficiaries obtaining majority age or some other defined event.

Is a Trust Probated when the Settlor Dies Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

No – and that’s a huge advantage. The Trust stands legally apart from the will and the courts have no legal jurisdiction over the enforcement of the provisions. The avoidance of probate means that the beneficiaries have immediate access to the Trust assets and avoid the substantial costs of probating an estate.

7. Medical Powers of Attorney, Directives, and Powers of Attorney

Clients typically consider the drafting of medical powers of attorney and Directives in anticipation of surgery or as a result of an illness. This document delegates legal responsibility to a third party, typically a family member, to make medical decisions upon the incapacitation of the party. The medical powers of attorney and directives empower the third party to make medical decisions which can have a direct bearing on the life or death of a patient.

What happens if I don’t have a medical power of attorney Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

This has been tragically exemplified in the media and courts. In the typical situation, the effected party is on life support and is unable to make medical decisions. Unfortunately, family members are not authorized to make decisions and conflicts can arise between family members and even the government as to whether the patient should be kept alive. Never leave your medical life and death decisions to institutions or the courts.

Can I revoke a medical power of attorney Will in in Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Abilene, and West Texas?

Yes. Whenever you want. However, if you are already medically incapacitated, there may be a legal objection to any termination or modification of the prior medical power of attorney.