When a loved one passes away the last thing anyone wants to do is navigate the probate process. Experienced legal counsel can be invaluable, so you can focus on attending to your family and the grieving process.
Our probate services include representing you in obtaining probate for a decedent's estate or pursuing an heirship in the absence of a will. Our probate practice includes representing executors and beneficiaries, and we can also assist individuals, heirs, creditors, interested third parties and professional fiduciaries including trustees, agents, principals who have issues regarding the distribution of the estate.
WILLS AND TRUSTS
Wills: A will allows you to direct to whom and how your property will be divided. Texas allows you to name an executor (the person who handles your estate) to serve without court supervision. A properly planned will can allow you to name guardians for your children, create a testamentary trust, and determine the manner in which your property is distributed to your heirs.
Trusts: Trusts are extremely flexible. Like a will, a trust's goal is to plan and outline who gets what. Unlike a will, a trust is valid upon its execution. Trusts can be used to hold assets for loved ones who, due to age or experience can no longer care for themselves. Unlike other states with cumbersome probate systems, living trusts are rarely necessary in Texas; however, a trust is a powerful tool in any estate plan to ensure the preservation of assets for a particular purpose. Certain types of trusts are also particularly effective at minimizing estate taxes.
ADDITIONAL ESTATE PLANNING TOOLS
As part of our estate planning process, we also advise clients about additional estate planning tools, such as:
An Advanced Directive
Often referred to as a Living Will, this document informs your loved ones of your wishes regarding end-of-life care. In the absence of an Advanced Directive, your doctors and loved ones may not be able to ascertain your wishes regarding end-of-life care. An Advanced Directive can be drafted in coordination with a Medical Power of Attorney to allow a trusted person to inform doctors of what care you want or do not want in emergencies and during end-of-life decision making.
A Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney dictates a spokesperson to communicate with your doctors and to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. A Medical Power of Attorney is often drafted in conjunction with an Advanced Directive to coordinate communication regarding end-of-life decision making.
A Durable Power of Attorney
These are important and often overlooked components in estate planning. A Durable Power of Attorney allows a designated person to handle your finances.
THE ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS
Initial Consultation: The Patel Ervin Estate Planning Process begins with a simple phone call. During this call, the attorneys will try and understand the basic goals the client is striving for in their Estate Planning. Some clients come into the phone call with just an idea that they need to have something drafted while other have been through the Estate Planning process before and just need to update their documents. Regardless, Patel Ervin will take the time to make sure you are comfortable with the process and not only get the information you need to move forward, but, in many instances, help you ask the questions that you and your family need to ask themselves before moving forward in the Estate Planning Process. At the the end of the call, you will be asked for contact information to forward a questionnaire to get more details to help the attorneys at Patel Ervin draft your customized Estate Plan.
Estate Planning Questionnaire: At Patel Ervin , we forward each of our clients a questionnaire to help them gather the information needed to draft an effective Estate Plan. This includes financial information, including organizing all the accounts that will need to be addressed in an Estate Plan along with the persons the clients want to appoint to handle their Estate. Once the Questionnaire is returned from the client, Patel Ervin will review the client's answers along with any questions that surface along the way to determine the price to move forward with the drafting of the Estate Plan.
Flat Fee Structure: For 99% of clients, a flat fee structure is the most appropriate fee structure. During our legal careers, one of the most vexing problems facing clients was the uncertainty of legal fees in dealing with an attorney. We take the guesswork out of this process. You will know the price of the documents before Patel Ervin begins any work. Patel Ervin has found a flat fee structure removes the stress from the attorney-client relationship and allows the Estate Plan to be a more collaborative process.