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Estate Planning

Probate Administration | Estate Planning | Will Preparation

Top Estate Planning Attorneys in Austin, TX

probate attorney in austin

Todd A. Wilson

Estate Attorney

You don’t have to be ultra-wealthy to reap priceless peace of mind from prudent estate planning. In fact, whether you own limited or extensive assets in Texas or elsewhere, a comprehensive estate plan can document your wishes, preserve your legacy, and provide for your loved ones in the future.

 

Whatever that takes for you — and regardless of whether you’re creating, updating, or administering an estate plan — the Law Office of Todd A. Wilson is here for you, and we’re ready to provide experienced counsel for any estate planning needs.

 

Also known as TAW Law TX, the Law Office of Todd A. Wilson is a full-service estate planning law firm Austin, TX, focused on efficient, optimal solutions that will help our clients achieve their objectives and protect what matters most. Locally owned and operated, our firm is home to top Austin estate planning attorneys who have deep knowledge of Texas estate laws, the local courts, probate, and more.

 

That’s how we continue to provide exceptional representation and service for various estate planning needs and objectives. Find out how we can help you by contacting us today.

 

 Call 512-827-9212 or Contact Us Online for a FREE Consultation

 

Estate planning information and answers are featured below to shed more light on what it takes to protect last wishes and legacies in Texas.

Smart Estate Planning

Though very few people are subject to federal estate taxation, planning your estate is critical. Without a will and/or estate plan in place, your loved ones may not have clear direction about what you want for your estate.

 

Worse than that, they may fight over what they believe you want, raising will contests and trust disputes. That could mean that your hard-earned assets could end up being drained by unnecessary litigation, along with taxes and administrative fees. Alternatively, if an unexpected accident left you incapacitated, the absence of an estate plan could mean decisions about your wellbeing, your health care, and more are left up to the courts, rather than trusted loved ones.

 

The Austin estate planning lawyers at TAW Law TX understand what it takes to craft comprehensive estate plans, and we have close to two decades of experience with estate administration in Texas.

 

We are ready to help you determine your best options for devising or updating a plan for your estate.

 

Key Benefits of Estate Planning

  • Ensuring that your assets are handed over to your loved ones or whoever you wish to give after you pass away;
  • Protecting your minor children by assigning your trusted individuals as guardians of the minors when you are not alive;
  • Directing your properties and caring for your loved ones when you are not capable of doing so yourself;
  • Privately keeping your dispositions, wishes, and assets away from the public eye;
  • Passing on the foundation of any business you have founded through hard work;
  • Safeguarding your pet friends (dogs, cats, etc.);
  • Shielding your property from creditors;
  • Never keeping your assets tied up longer than usual;
  • Reducing the costs of probate and other administrations;
  • Discouraging any contests to your estate;

Asset Protection and A-B Trusts

An A-B Trust structure is used by married couples who want to reduce taxes on an estate. This is done by both of them placing their assets into the trust and naming an external person other than their respective spouse as the beneficiary.

When the first spouse passes away, the trust gets divided into two – Trust A (survivor’s trust) and Trust B (decedent’s trust). The surviving spouse can control the survivor’s trust containing their own assets completely, but control over the decedent’s trust is limited.

However, the surviving spouse can still live in their house and draw income from the trust if that is stipulated in the trust. When the second (surviving) spouse passes away, the assets are passed on to the registered beneficiary.

In this way, double taxation is avoided because the property is then legally considered not to be a part of the second spouse’s estate. You’ll also need A-B Trusts in circumstances like these:

  • You are not legally married;
  • You want your children to receive the property after your death;
  • You owe state taxes;
  • Congress changes the estate tax laws again.

There have been some recent changes in the law regarding ‘portability’ which essentially mean that the surviving spouse can use the exemption amount of the deceased spouse as well without having to pay federal estate tax.

Guardianship and Estate Planning for Minors

Caring for your minor children is an important part of your estate planning process. Put enough assets in place, which is required for the upbringing and protection of children as well as the guardians, are for us to decide.

  • How can you not make the state act as a guardian to your children?;
  • Who do you want raising your children?;
  • Should that guardian be the sole decision maker?;
  • Can that person access your money or should the financial decisions be given to somebody else?;
  • What if your chosen guardian declines raising your children?;
  • How do you prevent your children from accessing and squandering your assets until they are mature enough to handle their inheritance?

Power of Attorney (POA) and Medical Directives

When you are unable to make decisions regarding your own medical problems, Powers of Attorney and medical directives come to the rescue during such unfortunate circumstances. If you are incapacitated, you would surely want your doctor to look for specific directions regarding your care.

In lieu of such specific directives, you may plan in designating and empowering a particular individual (or more) you can trust to take those crucial medical decisions for you. Give us a call at 512-827-9212 if you require any help.

Business Succession Planning

In America, family businesses constitute 60% of all jobs. If you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you should decide responsibly on what would happen to your business, legacy, and family after you pass away.

Many businesses never make it to the next generation for a lot of reasons. You should know how to avoid such mistakes and adequately create buyout agreements so that you can transfer the business without much dispute among your family members.

Also try to avoid estate and inheritance taxes as much as possible during the process. Planning for a business succession requires careful thinking and making smart transition plans to prepare the eventual successor for continuing your business.

Pet Trusts

We often disregard our pets when planning for the unfortunate event of death. After all, your pet is a part of your family too. Who’s going to care for them when you are gone? How will the person entrusted afford to care for your pet?

For easy answers to all these, you need an experienced estate planning attorney who can plan your pet trust and establish the necessary ownership and assets for the benefit of your pets. In this way, you can also pay the caregiver.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Estate Planning?

Protecting children and assets from the government, creditors, and others while maintaining control of your possessions during your lifetime and passing those assets to loved ones upon death.

What is Comprehensive Estate Planning?

Comprehensive estate planning means going beyond simply setting up your will and thinking you are covered. It involves the establishment and funding of trusts (where appropriate) to protect your assets from unwanted creditor and young or untrustworthy heirs. These trusts could include a variety of devices, depending on your goals, with intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), and special needs trusts being just a few among several options.


In addition to trusts, comprehensive estate planning also includes the creation of Powers of Attorney to allow a trusted friend or family member to handle your affairs in the event unforeseen circumstances prevent you from managing your affairs. Medical Directives, Living Wills and HIPPA forms are also included to allow you to direct medical treatment during times of crisis when you are unable to speak with a doctor.

Do I need a will or trust?

Almost everyone needs a will or trust. Many people mistakenly believe they do not need estate planning because they do not have enough assets for it to be a concern. However, if you have minor children, you want to direct who takes care of them and ensure they have the money to do so.

If you have purchased a house, car or any other major asset, you want to give that asset to the person you believe most deserving, not the State. If you have a small business, you want to preserve that business that you have fought so hard to build over the years. If you have pets, just like minor children, you need to specify who will care for them and from where the necessary money will come.

What happens if I die without a will or trust?

If you die without a will or trust (dying intestate), the State will divide your assets among the individuals it believes most deserving by default. The State makes its assumptions based solely on how the legislature believes most people would want their belongings distributed. It does not make any independent inquiries to determine what your wishes may have been or who was actually closest to you in life.

If I have a will, do I need a trust? Or if I have a trust, do I really need a will too?

Setting up a will or a trust does not necessarily mean that you don’t need additional estate planning devices. In other words, a will or a trust alone usually won’t cover every estate planning need, and relying solely on either of those devices to “do it all” could leave you with at least a few blind spots and oversights in an estate plan. With that, more assets could end up going to estate taxes, instead of your intended beneficiaries.

 

Consequently, it’s generally prudent to consider wills and trusts as two options you can use together to create a thoughtful estate plan that:

 

  • Mitigates any estate tax obligations
  • Makes the best use of existing estate tax exemptions and gift exclusions
  • Provides adequate asset protection, both now and for years to come
  • Properly documents your wishes while naming your beneficiaries
  • Preserves your legacy while helping you achieve your estate planning goals

Once I have an estate plan, I'm done, right? Do I really need to review a will or estate plan?

Wrong — once you’ve created an estate plan, that’s not the “end of the road” when it comes to estate planning. That’s because your life, your family, your estate, and other factors can change. When they do, your estate plan should be updated too. In fact, some smart times to revisit an estate plan and your will can be whenever:

 

  • You marry, remarry, or divorce.
  • You have a new child or grandchild.
  • You acquire new real estate or substantial assets.
  • You sell, give away, or lose ownership over bigger assets.
  • You take out a life insurance policy.
  • You are diagnosed with a new chronic illness.
  • Your feelings, preferences, or ideas about your estate plan change.

 

While some of these events can be life milestones and obvious reasons to update an estate plan, others may not be. That’s why it’s crucial to routinely check in with your estate planning attorney and set up routine reviews of your estate plan. That type of “maintenance” can offer invaluable peace of mind, especially when factors like changing tax laws are in play.

Do I really need an estate planning attorney? Can't I just put together an estate plan online?

Yes, you really do need an estate planning lawyer — and it’s not a great idea to put together an estate plan online — if you want your estate plan to:

 

  • Map onto and adequately address your needs and wishes
  • Hold up under the law, especially if any party raises a will contest in the future
  • Effectively reduce your heirs’ future tax liabilities, so they retain more of the inheritance (instead of having to pay more to Uncle Sam

 

If you rely on generic online tools to slap together a will or estate plan, you’re gambling with the possibilities that:

 

  • Important assets, beneficiaries, or needs could be overlooked.
  • Ambiguous language or terms could create confusion in the future, raising the risk that probate litigation may be needed to resolve the matter(s).
  • Your estate and your wishes could be eclipsed by contentious legal disputes; if the stakes are high and the estate plan hasn’t been carefully crafted, wild will fights like these could ensue.

 

With an estate planning lawyer, like the attorneys at TAW Law Texas, you can get personalized support devising a comprehensive estate plan that offers the devices, tools, protections, and foresight needed to preserve your wishes and your legacy for the future.