Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Separate Property vs. Community Property

The Texas Family Code defines separate property as:

- property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage;

- property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent; and

- the recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

In essence, all other property acquired by one or both spouses during marriage is considered community property. This includes income earned on separate property during the marriage. The Texas Family Code states that “property possessed by either spouse during or on dissolution of marriage is presumed to be community property.” In a divorce, clear and convincing evidence as to why property should be considered separate is required to establish separate property designations.

If you need a Texas Family Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What is an attorney ad litem?

The term ad litem simply means “for the suit”. An attorney ad litem may be appointed or assigned in family law cases or probate cases where representation is deemed necessary by a judge. While the Texas Family Code does not specifically define the role, the Texas Probate Code provides a definition that is generally accepted in family law cases:

An attorney ad litem is an attorney who is appointed by a court to present on behalf of an incapacitated person.

In family law cases, judges will recommend the appointment of an attorney ad litem when doing so is deemed to be in the best interest of the child (or any party) with regard to the child’s interests in the case at hand.

In any probate proceeding, a judge may appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of a person with a legal disability, a person who is a nonresident and cannot be present, an unborn person, or an unknown heir.

In either area of law, the role of an attorney ad litem is that of advocate for his client.

If you need a Texas Family Lawyer or a Texas Probate Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

How is an LLC different from an LLP?

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a hybrid organization that takes aspects of corporations and combines them with the framework of a partnership. The owners of an LLC benefit from the ability to choose to be taxed at the company level, much like a corporation, or using pass-through taxation, as found in partnerships. An LLC generally has the management flexibility of a partnership as well. In Texas, this organizational structure may be owned by a sole individual or by a group. Either way, members have limited personal liability for the actions of the LLC.

A Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), on the other hand, cannot be considered a separate taxable entity, and therefore is restricted to pass-through income taxation. An LLP is essentially a General Partnership in which each partner is not liable for certain acts of other partners. Each partner is, however, directly impacted by any profits or losses that the LLP encounters. If one partner obligates the LLP to a debt, be it to creditors, landlords, lenders, etc. each partner can, to some extent, be held personally responsible.

If you are considering forming a business in Texas, contact Peterson Law Group.

What assets do and do not pass under a will?

In Texas, assets that commonly pass under a testator’s will include:

  • Real property, both surface rights and mineral interests.

  • Bank and brokerage accounts, Certificates of Deposit, stocks, and bonds (depending on whether there is a beneficiary designation).

  • One-half of any Individual Retirement Accounts which are considered community property owned by the testator’s spouse.

  • Tangible personal property, both titled and untitled.

  • Royalties generated from intellectual property.

  • Money owed to the testator at the time of his/her death.

Assets that generally do not pass under a will in Texas include:

  • Life insurance.

  • Some employer provided retirement plans in which the testator is the participant.

  • Employer provided retirement plans in which the testator’s spouse is the participant.

  • Individual retirement accounts owned solely by the testator.

  • Property owned in a trust of which the testator is a beneficiary.

There are instances where some of the assets described above may be passed under a will. One common example occurs when the estate or will executor is named as the beneficiary for one or more of the assets listed.

If you need a Texas Wills, Trust & Estate Planning Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

If you need a will, check out our estate planning questionnaire.

If you need to start a probate, check out our probate questionnaire.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What is a “Bypass Trust” in a will?

A bypass trust is an estate planning tool employed by married couples who wish to take advantage of both of their estate tax exemptions, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal estate taxes. While the federal estate tax is currently non-existent, it is safe to assume that the rate of taxation will soon return to familiar percentages. Planning for this, it behooves married persons to consider establishing a will that allows them to pass on as much of their estate as possible to their loved ones.

In a simple will, all property passes to the surviving spouse when one party dies. This scenario qualifies for the marital deduction; however, once the surviving spouse passes away, they have only one estate tax exemption to apply to property passed to the couple’s children. A bypass trust, also known as a credit shelter trust or an A/B trust, allows a married couple to use both of their estate tax exemptions.

The way a bypass trust allows married couples to avoid federal estate taxes is by leaving the exemption amount available upon the first spouse’s death to a trust that provides the surviving spouse with a lifetime income. Once the surviving spouse passes away, the remaining funds in the trust will then be distributed among the couple’s children. This trust, if properly created and maintained, is not subject to the federal estate tax because the surviving spouse cannot be deemed the owner of the trust.

If you need a Texas Wills, Trust, and Estate Planning Attorney, contact Peterson Law Group.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What is the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program?

If a person (age 55 or older as of March 1, 2005) of limited income received healthcare services through the government program Medicaid, the state of Texas has the right to ask for money back from their estate once they die. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) facilitates that reimbursement.

The MERP applies only to some of the long-term Medicaid services, like nursing home care, extended in-home services, and prescription drugs supported by Medicaid. It is important realize that the MERP will only file a claim on a person’s estate if doing so is cost effective. The MERP will not file a claim when:

- the value of the estate is less than $10,000;

- there is a spouse who is still alive;

- there is a child under 21 years of age;

- there is a child of any age who is blind or permanently and totally disabled;

- there is an unmarried adult child who lived in the person’s home for at least one year before the Medicaid recipient died;

- the amount of recoverable Medicaid costs are $3,000 or less; or

- the cost of selling the property would be more than or equal to the value of the property.

The state of Texas will also not ask for monetary reimbursement if doing so would cause an undue hardship for the deceased person’s heirs. In order to be granted an undue hardship request, the person’s heirs must ask for it, and provide documentation that proves the hardship. Some scenarios that MERP recognizes as undue hardships occur when:

- the estate property was a family business, farm, or ranch for at least 12 months prior to the Medicaid recipient’s death, and this property is the main source of income for their heirs;

- the estate property produces at least 50% of the heir’s livelihood;

- recovery by the state would affect the property and result in heirs losing their primary source of income; or

- the estate’s beneficiaries would be eligible for public or medical assistance if a recovery claim is collected.

- Other compelling reasons may exist.

More detailed information about the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program can be found at the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) website.

If you need a Texas Estate Planning Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when your personal information, such as your name, social security number, credit card number, etc., is stolen and used without your knowledge. Theft of identity is a dangerous thing, potentially ruining your bank account, credit score, and reputation.

In order to protect from identity theft, it is helpful to be aware of some of the ways it can occur. The Federal Trade Commission lists the top five most common ways that identity theft happens:

1. “Dumpster Diving” to find any documents that have personal information on them.

2. “Skimming” by stealing credit/debit card numbers when processing your purchases.

3. “Phishing” by pretending to be financial institutions or companies and sending you spam e-mail or pop-up messages enticing you to reveal your personal information.

4. “Changing Your Address” by simply going to the post office and filling out a change of address form in your name. The thieves will then have access to all of your mail, including your bills and bank statements.

5. “Old-Fashioned Stealing” by stealing wallets, purses, mail, new checks, tax information, or even personal records from employers. They may also try to bribe employers who have access to your personal records.

Having your identity stolen is scary. In order to avoid identity theft, here are some key tips from the FTC:

- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.

- Protect your Social Security Number. Don’t carry it in your wallet or purse, and don’t give it out unless absolutely necessary.

- Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you know exactly who you’re dealing with.

- Never click on links sent to unsolicited e-mails and use firewalls and anti-virus protection on your computer.

- Don’t use obvious passwords like your name, date of birth, etc.

- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home.

If you need a Texas Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

How do I obtain a marriage license in Texas?

In order for two adults to legally enter into a marriage in the state of Texas, a man and a woman must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk of any county in this state. The couple must both appear before the county clerk, provide proof of identity, fill out an application provided by the county clerk, and take the oath printed on the application form.

The couple must then participate in a ceremony that is to be conducted within 31 days of the issuing of their license. If a ceremony is not conducted, or an authorized person does not conduct the ceremony, the marriage license expires.

If you need a Texas Family Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Friday, March 05, 2010

How do I have my property rezoned?

It is often advantageous for real estate developers to have properties they purchase rezoned to fit the vision they have for a property. Unfortunately, local governments and citizens do not always share the same vision as the developer. The discrepancies that arise as a result have led the rezoning process to become quite cumbersome, and in some cases, downright painful. There is, however, hope for developers who are willing to reach out to the community and patiently follow the steps required to have their property rezoned.

In Bryan, TX, for example, a developer (or individual) wanting to have their property rezoned must first fill out a “Rezoning Application” and submit it to the Bryan Department of Development Services. The minimum requirements for submission to the department include:

- $300.00 application fee,

- Metes and Bounds description of property, and

- a completed and signed application form.

In the application, the developer is given the opportunity to describe the reasons for their rezoning request, the changing conditions in the area which make the zoning change necessary, whether or not the change is in accordance with the Future Land Use Plan, and any other reasons the developer wishes to include.

Once they have applied for rezoning, it often helps for a developer to reach out to the public. Placing informational ads in local newspapers and/or magazines is a good way to do this. If the rezoning proposal is drastic, one that would affect a large portion of the community, holding an open forum to allow anyone with questions or concerns an opportunity to voice them is often advisable. This demonstrates the developer’s willingness to consider the wishes of the community while providing a venue to clearly present the benefits of the proposed zoning change.

Different local governments have varied requirements regarding public involvement. Some insist that a public forum be held, while others only require that public notice be made. In other areas, no public notice may be required at all. The developer should research the local governing body’s requirements before attempting to have property rezoned.

If you need assistance or advice regarding property rezoning, contact the Texas Real Estate Lawyers at Peterson Law Group.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How long do I have to pay child support?

In Texas, the court can order one or both parents to pay child support until:

· the child is 18 years of age or graduates from High School, whichever occurs later;

· the child is emancipated through marriage, or through removal of disabilities of minority;

· the death of the child; or

· indefinitely if the child is considered to be disabled.

All of these time intervals are fairly self-explanatory except for bullet point number two. According to the Texas Family Code, any minor may petition to remove the disabilities of minority if they are:

· a resident of the state of Texas;

· 17 years old, or at least 16 and not living with their parents or legal guardians; and/or

· self-supporting and managing their own financial affairs.

Except for age requirements specifically stated in the constitution and in Texas statutes, a minor whose disabilities are removed legally has the capacities of an adult. This, in the State’s eyes, eliminates the need for a parent to pay child support.

If you need a Texas Child Support Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How do Texas courts determine the amount of child support owed?

In Texas, as in most other states, several factors are considered when determining how much money is required as payment for child support. Among the factors taken into consideration are:

• the age and needs of the child;
• the ability of both parents to contribute to the support of their child;
• the amount of time each parent is in possession of or has access to the child;
• any childcare expenses incurred due to the employment of one or both parents;
• the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance being paid from one parent to the other; and
• the amount of the payer’s net resources.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all of the factors considered when determining child support payments. The Texas Family Code sums up the court’s charge by stating that “any reason consistent with the best interest of the child, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parents” are to be observed.

While the court renders the final decision about child support, it does not necessarily have to make the “who pays” and “how much” determination. In an effort to promote the amicable settlement of disputes such as these, Texas law has provided a statute that allows the parties to develop a written agreement provisioning support for the child in question. If the court finds that the agreement is indeed in the child’s best interest, it will render judgment in accordance with the agreement.

If you need a Texas Child Support Lawyer or a Texas Collaborative Lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What is a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 exchange is a tax planning strategy that allows individuals to defer capital gains taxes. Real estate investors may qualify for this type of exchange when they sell a property and reinvest the proceeds in a “like-kind” property.

This leads to the question of what qualifies as “like-kind” property. The IRS states that “properties are of like-kind, if they are of the same nature or character, even if they differ in grade or quality.” In a 1031 exchange the definition of “like-kind” properties does not apply to livestock of different sexes, or to exchanges of inventory, stocks, bonds, notes, other securities or evidence of indebtedness. One important note: in an exchange of real property it generally does not matter if the properties are improved or unimproved. What does matter, however, is whether or not both properties are located in the United States.

In order to participate in a 1031 exchange, the IRS requires that a qualified intermediary facilitate the exchange. This intermediary will be able to walk an individual through all of the special rules found in the Internal Revenue Code regarding 1031 Tax Free Exchanges.

The attorneys at Peterson Law Group have formed a qualified intermediary called Brazos 1031 Exchange Company. If you have any questions or would like to perform a 1031 Tax Free Exchange, contact them today.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How do I change my name?

There are a couple of different ways to change your name. First, if you are getting a divorce, a section may be added to the final divorce decree requesting the name change. The court may then change the person’s name to one that was previously used by the applicant. In some instances, the court may not grant the name change, but it cannot do so simply to keep the last names of family members the same.

If a person wishes to change their name but is not currently going through a divorce, they may file a petition for their change of name in the county in which they reside. They must include in the petition:

a. Their current name and address
b. The full name they wish to be known as
c. The reason(s) they are requesting a change in name
d. Whether they have been the subject of a final felony conviction
e. Whether they are a registered sex offender
f. A legible and complete set of their fingerprints

They must also include, or provide reasonable explanations for not including, their sex, date of birth, race, driver’s license number, social security number, and their assigned FBI number (if known). It also helps to include any offenses above Class C Misdemeanor that may appear on the applicant’s record and notice of any warrants that may be out for the applicant’s arrest.

It is important to note that a change of name does not release a person from liability incurred under a previous name or effect a right a person held under a previous name.

If you need assistance changing your name, contact Peterson Law Group.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Adoption: What is required to adopt a child in Texas?

Adoption is defined as a procedure that establishes a parent-child relationship between a child and adopting parents. In Texas, any adult, single or married, can petition to adopt a child who may be adopted.

So, who may be adopted? Here, any child who is living in Texas when a petition is filed, and who meets one of the following stipulations is considered eligible for adoption.

1. The child’s parents are no longer living and/or the parent-child relationship between the child and each living parent has been terminated;

2. a stepparent is petitioning to adopt their spouse’s child/children and the parent-child relationship between the child’s other parent has been terminated;

3. the former stepparent of a child who is at least two years old has been caring for the child for six months, the parent/child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the other parent consents to the adoption; or

4. the person seeking the adoption of a child who is at least two years old is the child’s former stepparent, the parent/child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the former stepparent has been caring for the child for at least one year preceding the adoption.

In general, a child who is to be adopted must have been living with the person who is petitioning for at least six months before the adoption is legally granted. While this six month “trial” period is technically required, Texas courts have been known to waive or shorten the period if doing so is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.

In all honesty, adopting a child can be a difficult process. Unfortunately, many potential adoptive parents are frightened or intimidated by the amount of time and attention to detail that is necessary to adopt a child.

If you need a Texas adoption lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is a specal needs trust in a will?

A third party special needs trust ("SNT"), generally included in a person's will, is a supplemental needs trust established by a person for the benefit of someone who is disabled. In a will, property that would otherwise have been distributed to the disabled beneficiary outright will instead be held in a SNT for his or her benefit. The SNT is designed so that the trust property will not be counted as an available resource when determining whether the disabled beneficiary is eligible for public benefits. As long they do not have the legal ability to revoke the trust or direct that the trust assets be distributed for their benefit, the assets in the SNT will not be counted as the disabled beneficiary's assets when determining his or her eligibility for Medicaid. A third party SNT has no payback provision to the State of Texas. Also, the trust can be written so that the property of the trust which remains upon the disabled beneficiary's death can be distributed to other family members or beneficiaries of your choosing. These are the major benefits of a third party SNT.

If you need a Texas estate planning lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What changes have been made in dealing with estates?

Under the now-repealed estate tax laws, property passing from a decedent used to receive a step-up in cost basis equal to the property's fair market value as of the decedent's date of death. That tax benefit has been eliminated for persons who die in 2010, and instead, the basis of property acquired from a decedent will be the lesser of the decedent's adjusted basis or the property's fair market value on the decedent's date of death. Under this rule, it is possible that the cost basis of property will be stepped down.

These new carryover basis rules will not only cause the imposition of capital gains taxes that previously were avoided following a person's death, but the beneficiaries who inherit your estate now need to know what your cost basis was in the properties they receive. In this regard, you should endeavor to organize your records so that the beneficiaries of your estate will be able to calculate your cost basis in the properties you own. For many people who inherit property in 2010, records will not exist or will be incomplete, thus making it difficult or impossible for them to determine a particular property's cost basis.

There are two important exceptions to the carryover basis rules. A decedent's Executor is allowed to allocate up to $1,300,000 to various assets owned by a decedent, thereby increasing the cost basis of those assets. Also, an additional $3,000,000 of basis increase can be allocated to properties passing to a spouse or to a special "qualified terminable interest property" trust for the spouse (often called a "QTIP" trust or a "marital" trust). Under the tax laws in 2010, just like the laws which existed prior to estate tax repeal, any person may give an unlimited amount of property to his or her spouse or to a QTIP trust (the "Marital Deduction") without generating any gift or estate taxes.

For estate planning help, contact Peterson Law Group.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What changes have been made to the Federal generation skipping transfer tax?

Like the estate tax, the skipping transfer tax has been repealed the 2010 tax year. Under the old law, each person could give away during lifetime or at death up to $3,500,000 (the "GST exemption") without owing the generation skipping transfer tax. Any gifts to grandchildren or great-grandchildren (and to certain other persons two or more generations younger than the person making the gift) in excess of the GST exemption would have been subject to the GST tax which was equal to the highest marginal estate tax bracket (45% in 2009). Although the GST tax has been eliminated for 2010, it will be reinstated in 2011, and the available GST exemption will be reduced to its former level of only $1,000,000 (although this amount will be indexed for inflation) and with a 55% rate of tax.

If you need a Texas estate planning attorney, contact Peterson Law Group.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What changes have been made to the federal gift tax?

Contrary to what many think, the Federal gift tax has not been repealed. However, the gift tax rate has been lowered to 35%, down from the 45% rate in 2009. Under the current gift tax law, each person may give away (during his or her lifetime) as much as $1, million in cash or other property without paying any gift taxes. Any gifts which exceed this amount will be taxed at 35%. However, the gift tax will not apply to most of the gifts people make because each person can give $13,000 per year to any person without reducing the $1 million exemption. This $13,000 per year exclusion from the gift tax is known as the "Annual Exclusion." The Annual Exclusion, combined with other estate planning techniques, can help to reduce your estate for estate tax purposes and transfer wealth to your children and grandchildren.

If you need estate planning help, contact Peterson Law Group.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do I need to file gift tax returns?

Gifting property to children can be a great way to reduce your estate tax burden, but when you make gifts that exceed a certain threshold amount, you will want to file a gift tax return.

It is important that you file gift tax returns (IRS Form 709) each year to report gifts you make which exceed the annual exclusion from the gift tax (currently $13,000 per donor per donee each year). Gift tax returns may also need to be filed for generation skipping transfer ("GST") tax purposes if you have a GST trust where distributions are made during the term of such trust or upon the termination of such trust to any of your grandchildren or great-grandchildren (or to other persons who are "skip persons" for GST purposes). Imposition of the GST tax can be avoided if you allocate (or are deemed to have allocated) a portion of each of your $3,500,000 GST exemptions as you make gifts in trust each year.

If you gift tax returns, they will be due at the same time as your Federal income tax return, normally April 15th of the year following the gift, unless extended.

If you need a Texas estate planning lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What is an ILIT?

An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, or ILIT, is a way to avoid estate taxes by removing life insurance proceeds from your estate. By giving an existing life insurance policy to this Trust or by giving cash to the Trust which is ultimately used to purchase a life insurance policy, you should effectively remove the proceeds of the insurance from your estate according to the IRS.

If you transfer an existing life insurance policy to the Trust, you must outlive the transfer by three years in order for the proceeds to be excluded from your estate. Any new insurance which is purchased by the Trust is not subject to this three year rule.

Once the Trust owns a life insurance policy, the Trust becomes obligated to pay all premiums which come due on the policy. Since the Trust will need funds to pay for the insurance policy, you would make gifts to the Trust each year in the amount of the insurance premiums.

It is important to remember that gifts to the Trust will be irrevocable once made, and you cannot take back a gift once it is made. In addition, all income which accrues to the gifted property will benefit the Trust, not you.

For many, an irrevocable life insurance trust has numerous estate tax benefits and is a great method to transfer wealth to their children.

If you need an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What is the status of the estate tax currently?

As of January 1, 2010, the Federal estate tax has been repealed -- but only for one year. As part of the 2001 tax act, Congress increased the amount persons could give away tax-free at death (the "Exemption Amount"),. This amount increased each year over a 10 year period. The Exemption Amount reached $3,500,000 in 2009 and ultimately became unlimited this year. In other words, the Exemption Amount in 2010 is equal to the value of your entire estate.

However, tax law changes were limited to a 10 year duration. Thus, in 2011, the estate tax will be reinstated with an Exemption Amount of only $1,000,000 and a rate of tax equal to 55%, the same exemption and tax rate as in 2000. Larger estates will also have an extra 5% tax that was repealed 2001, but be reinstated in 2011.

If you have questions about how the estate tax affects you specifically or if you need a Texas estate planning lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

How do I appoint a future guardian for my children?

In Texas, appointing a guardian for one's children is normally done in one of two ways:
  1. in a person's Will
  2. or in a separate Appointment of Guardian document.
While I typically include that information in a will, I prefer to also appoint guardians using a separate instrument. The reason that I prefer this approach is that a will does not become authoritative until the time of your death. On the other hand, the Appointment of Guardian is active upon death or incapacity/disability (if you are longer able to care for your child). Most people with minor children are more likely to become disabled or incapacitated than to die, so I think the second approach is the better one.

If you need a Texas Wills, Trust & Estate Planning lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What is a codicil?

A codicil is a legal document that amends your existing Will without revoking the Will in its entirety. Codicils can be used to an existing will provision, a new will provision, or delete an existing will provision. Usually, if the changes someone wants to make to their will are relatively minor (for example, changing executors), a codicil is a quick, inexpensive way to amend the Will without re-drafting the entire document.

If you need a Texas Wills, Trust & Estate Planning attorney, contact Peterson Law Group.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

What is a medical directive?

A Medical Directive (or Directive to Physicians) allows you to state whether you want or do not want life-sustaining treatment to be utilized to keep you alive if faced with a terminal or irreversible medical condition. It is much better for you to make your end of life decisions made in advance so that your loved ones, your doctors, and your medical power of attorney knows your desires. Typically, we include a medical directive in our standard will packages.

If you need a Texas Wills & Trust lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Friday, January 08, 2010

What is a HIPAA release?

HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) requires health care providers to be very careful how they release health care information. All health care providers are required to make reasonable efforts to limit the release of protected health information to the minimum necessary to accomplish the intended purpose of the particular disclosure or request for disclosure. A HIPAA release allows you to name one or more persons who will be able to have access to all of your information. This is especially important to have in your estate planning so that your medical power of attorney can have access to complete medical information in the event that they needed to make a medical decision on your behalf. We typically include such a release in our standard will packages.

If you need a Texas wills & trusts lawyer, contact Peterson Law Group.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What is a pourover will?

When someone has created a revocable trust, we usually create a pourover will. This will protects the individual or couple in case there is property that does not get contributed to the revocable trust. For example, someone with a revocable trust may forget to title a new car in the name of the revocable trust. In that instance, the will, when probated, would serve to place the ownership of that car into the name of the revocable trust, i.e. "pours it over into the trust".

If you need a revocable trust, pourover will, or other estate planning advice, contact the Peterson Law Group.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Key Elder Law Numbers for 2010

ElderLaw Answers released a short summary of the key elder law numbers for different federal tax and benefit programs for 2010. The summary is much better than sifting through the various governmental portals for this information.

The highlights include:
  • Gift tax exclusion stays at $13,000
  • There was no cost of living adjustment to Social Security and SSI since the consumer price index did not increase
  • Medicare premiums, deductibles and copayments increased slightly
  • The amount you could deduct from your taxes for buying long term care insurance increased slightly
  • Medicaid's community spouse resource allowance, monthly mainteance and income cap remained the same as in 2009.
If you need a Texas Estate Planner, contact Peterson Law Group.