Practice Areas

Estate Planning

Many adults start to recognize the need to plan for the future as their professional and personal lives grow. Whether it is an increase in salary and savings or a couple extra mouths to feed, there is an immediate need for at the very least a basic estate plan. Having a plan for after you die, even if you have little to no assets, will give you ease and will prevent possible family disputes or costly legal fees that may arise in the future. A good plan will identify how your financial and medical matters will be handled, maximize the value of your estate and help your family avoid costly probate.

Our goal is to efficiently address our client’s legal needs while also understanding that talking about the subject of death can be daunting and uncomfortable.


Most families choose to write a will for their estate planning needs. When a person dies without a valid will, his or her assets will pass by “intestate succession,” or according to state law. Each state has its own laws to determine how property will be distributed. Having a will ensures that your assets pass according to your wishes and not by the laws of the state.


More and more families are choosing trusts as their primary estate planning tool. It is no longer used just for the wealthy as those with modest assets can also benefit from trust planning. A trust directs how and when trust assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Trusts are also commonly used to help avoid probate, to maintain privacy, and to retain control and management of assets during your lifetime.

Other Estate Planning Choices:

  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Advanced Directives (Directives to Physician’s)
  • Power of Attorneys
  • Appointment for Disposition of Remains
  • Asset Protection
  • Beneficiary Designations

An estate planning attorney can help you decide which options would work best for your unique family needs.


Probate is a court procedure that proves that a will is valid. Many families do not realize that a will is not effective until it goes through the probate process. A will assigns an executor or administrator to handle collection and distribution of all assets in the estate. This usually occurs after liquidating any liabilities and paying necessary taxes. When a loved one dies without a will (intestate), a court-supervised probate process or alternative is necessary before any assets can be distributed. Typically, dying without a will is much more complex and time-consuming resulting in additional court costs and attorneys’ fees.

Probate can be avoided in certain situations. Discuss with a probate attorney if the estate includes any of the following:

  • Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trusts
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Transfer on Death Deed
  • Right of Survivorship accounts and Joint Tenancy
Texas law allows for alternatives to the formal probate process (independent or dependent administration) in certain situations, for instance if an estate does not have many assets or has no debt. Other options include:

  • Small Estate Affidavit
  • Muniment of Title
  • Affidavit of Heirship
Although probate in Texas is straight forward and not as complicated as probate in other states, it is still important to talk to a probate attorney to guide you through the appropriate probate process or alternative.


Guardianship is a relationship established by a court of law between the person who needs help (called a ward) and the person or entity (called a guardian) chosen or appointed by the court to help the ward make legal decisions that he or she cannot make on their own. It begins by filing an Application for Petition of Permanent Guardian accompanied by medical documentation and sometimes a finding by a physician that the proposed ward meets the legal definition of an incapacitated person. Texas law then requires that an attorney ad litem is appointed to represent the proposed ward after the guardianship application is filed. Finally, the court will hold a guardianship hearing. Once a guardian is appointed, the guardian can then handle all affairs on behalf of the ward.

The two types of guardianship include guardianship of the estate and guardianship of the person. A guardianship of the estate is necessary when the ward cannot make financial decisions on his or her own due to a disability. Guardianship of the person is necessary when the ward can no longer take care of his or her health and well-being. Guardians must act in the ward’s best interests at all times.

Contact an attorney to help guide you through the guardianship application process.
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