Kids Protection PlanningDid you know that 69% of parents have not yet named guardians for their kids?
Of the 31% who have, most have made one of 6 common mistakes. Click the link on the right to review the 6 common mistakes most parents (and their lawyers!) make when naming legal guardians and then schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with us today, so we can fix those mistakes with you.
Having a Will Alone Simply Does Not Ensure the Care of Your Kids if the unthinkable happens to you!
If you are a parent of minor children (or those with special needs) who are counting on you, your estate plan must begin with your children and ensure that they are always taken care of by the people that you choose, in the way that you want, no matter what happens.
At The Mundheim Firm, one of our primary areas of focus is planning for the well-being and care of the children that you love.
Without proper planning, if the unthinkable happens to you, where will your children be?
- Your children could be placed into Child Protective Services (CPS) even if you have a will in place; even if you have a living trust; while your legal documents are located or your family is identified. Worse, your kids could be left in the care of the one person in your family you would never want raising them.
- A Judge who doesn’t know you or your family will decide who will raise your kids, even if it is the last person you would ever want to raise them.
- Your assets could be wasted in probate, a court process that can tie up your assets for months or years if your estate plan is not properly structured, depriving your kids of the resources they need to live comfortably.
- When your kids turn 18 or 21, they get a check for whatever assets are left – outright with no protection.
- There are unscrupulous people who make it their business to review public records to find out what 18 and 21 year-olds are coming into money.
- The vast majority of estate planning attorneys simply do not address these immediate issues, and do not plan from a parent’s perspective.
Yes, these things scare us too. That is why we offer a Kids Protection Plan® with every estate plan we prepare for families with young children.
What is a Kids Protection Plan®?
A Kids Protection Plan® is a set of instructions, legal documents, and even an ID card for your wallet, which you need to have if you have kids at home who count on you for their well-being and care.
If you are in an accident, your Kids Protection Plan® will make sure your children are never taken into the custody of Child Protective Services, strangers, or the care of anyone you would not want because the authorities don’t have clear instructions from you. Your Kids Protection Plan® will ensure that your children are raised by the people that you choose, not someone chosen by a Judge who does not know you.
To get started with your Kids Protection Plan®, click the link on the right, or contact us.
Planning for Everyone You Love and Everything You HaveDo you know what would happen legally – to you, your loved ones, your money, and everything else you care about – if something unexpected happened to you?
If you have an estate plan and it’s out of date, your assets could be lost to the Texas Comptroller’s Department of Unclaimed Property, or to an unnecessary Court process.
If you don’t know exactly what would happen for everyone you love and everything you own, then the first step is to find out exactly what would happen, legally and financially, so that you can decide if the current state of your affairs is okay with you.
How Do We Help You With Estate Planning?We conduct a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we spend time together and you will become informed. Before your Family Wealth Planning Session, you will complete a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment, which will help you to organize what you own and what you have to think about when it comes to planning for the well-being and care of your loved ones and belongings. If you decide the current state of affairs is unacceptable, and if we both decide that it is a fit to work together, then we can design an estate plan together that will best suit the needs of your family.
The foundation of your estate plan will often include a revocable living trust; you transfer your property into this trust for your benefit during your life. One of the benefits of a revocable living trust is that, when done correctly and maintained over time, your estate plan should help your family to avoid the cost and delay of probate and minimize or eliminate estate taxes. If you are ready to get started with the estate planning process, or with evaluating your current situation, please schedule an Estate Plan Checkup and Review at our office.
For people with additional needs, we provide advanced estate planning services.
Can I DIY My Estate Plan?Unfortunately, most DIY plans do not work, because much of what passes for estate planning is little more than word processing. You are asked a few questions and then the drafter decides which "plan" is right for you, and fits you into a template. This is not estate planning; it is little more than a “search and replace” of your family’s name and then a hit of the “print” button which spits out form documents.
We Are Professional Estate PlannersYour Personal Family Lawyer® at The Mundheim Firm will educate you, take the time to get to know you, your family, your concerns, your goals and your issues, and will gladly and patiently answer all of your questions to produce an estate plan that is exactly right for you and will keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict.
If you are a family with young children, then your estate plan should begin with a foundation that ensures that your children will always be taken care of, no matter what happens. At The Mundheim Firm, one of our primary areas of focus is protecting minor children.
Elder Law IssuesElder law involves a number of issues that are intertwined with traditional estate planning. For example, it is essential to have your durable power of attorney, will, living trusts, and advanced directives reviewed by your Personal Family Lawyer®.
There are special provisions that need to be present in these documents that—if not included—can create unnecessary obstacles for your family. We can provide the legal assistance you need to navigate this and other elder law issues, such as probate or adult guardianship.
Guardianship of Children
69% of parents have not named legal guardians for their children. Of the 31% who have, most have made one of 6 common mistakes. That means that if you have minor children at home (or children who have special needs), it is time to review your plan for their care, in case something happens to you.Begin here with our report on the 6 common mistakes parents make when naming legal guardians for their kids and how you can fix them now. See the box about “6 common mistakes.”
Then, consider taking the very first step that every parent must have in place (no matter whether you have $1 or $10 million), and name legal guardians for your children for the long-term HERE.Finally, if you have not already read the book Wear Clean Underwear, it is the best-selling book on legal planning for parents and it is a must-read. You can get a copy of it with my compliments by clicking on the box to the right.
If you and your spouse/partner cannot agree on who would be the ideal guardian(s) for your kids, that is something we can help with. We have special training from the Family Wealth Planning Institute on helping parents work through this critical decision.
If you do nothing, the decision about who would raise your children (if something were to happen to you) would be left up to a judge to decide.A judge who does not know you, does not know what is important to you, and does not know your children will make all of the decisions about who cares for the people who are most important to you in the world.
We know that is not what you want.
The truth is, there may never be a perfect solution for you, but there is definitely a solution that is better than your children being raised by someone you did not choose.
Perhaps you think the way so many parents do, “if we don’t anticipate it, it will never happen, right?”
If bad things never happened to good people, you would not need insurance, or any other type of protection. It would be great if that were true.
Responsible parents protect their children, and that means you must think about the unthinkable.Fortunately, there is a sensible approach to the selection of a guardian for your children that makes it a lot easier. And we can guide you through this most important of decisions.
In addition, we will guide you in putting together a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® that will ensure you have named legal guardians for the long-term and for the short-term to protect your kids, no matter what, and handled all 7 Must-Dos when it comes to ensuring the well-being and care of your children.
Asset Protection Planning
Nobody expects to be sued. Just ask the 20 million people involved in lawsuits each year.
Divorce, inheritance, health issues, creditors, employees, theft, changing markets, sexual harassment claims, natural disasters, and disgruntled business partners are just a few issues that can result in devastating lawsuits for unprepared business owners. The highest level of risk falls on those who think they are immune.
Americans are now more concerned than ever about protecting their assets from creditor claims, taxes, divorce, and other disasters. Rightly so.
The more success you have (especially in business, professional practice or real estate activities), the more at risk you are as others see your success grow.
Here are some of the “risky behaviors” that you may be engaging in right now:
Will you be signing loan documents, a personal guaranty, or a lease? Do you have rental properties or employees? Are you an attorney or physician? Do you work in construction or perform professional services? Are you getting married having children from a prior marriage or separate property assets you are bringing into the marriage.
Here’s the thing: all of these activities are activities we want to see you do more of! They are, in many ways, the spice of life. What we do not want is for that spice to become too hot and impact your life negatively.
That is where we come in. We can set up your business and life structures to ensure that you can take maximum risk with minimum worry.
We assist our clients in determining the appropriate level of asset protection planning for their particular circumstances. We will consider insurance, prenuptial agreements, asset segregation, choice of jurisdiction, gifting, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and asset protection trusts. Customized combinations are layered depending on the needs of the client and as appropriate.
There are many different strategies to accomplish the protection of your assets while you are alive and after you are gone. To find out which strategies may be right for you, contact us for a Family Wealth Planning Session.
Special Needs Planning
Estate planning for a family with children who have special needs comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that some lawyers are ill-equipped to handle. The experienced special needs planning attorneys with The Mundheim Firm are dedicated to ensuring your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you are no longer able to serve as the primary caregiver.
We offer a variety of estate planning tools and strategies designed to accommodate the unique circumstances presented by children with special needs and their families. We can help you pass on the financial assets needed for your child to live a rich quality of life without jeopardizing eligibility for government benefits. We will also assist you in finding and appointing a trusted guardian and/or trustee to look after them in the event of your death or incapacity. We will help with locating the best residential opportunities—as well as the means to pay for them.
As of May 1, 2018, Texas Achieving a Better Life Experience (Texas ABLE®), based on federal and state law, provides Texans experiencing the onset of a disability before the age of 26 (who also meet program eligibility requirements) or their fiduciaries, an opportunity to save up to $15,000.00 per year by placing those funds into an ABLE® account. When determining eligibility for federal benefits, funds up to $100,000.00 held in an ABLE® account are effectively ignored.
Funds may be withdrawn from an ABLE® account for qualified expenses including education, housing, transportation, personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial, and other expenses that may be identified from time to time by the IRS. Such qualified withdrawals are not subject to federal income tax.
Special Needs Trusts
Another, more traditional option to handle the “Catch-22-like” situation of leaving enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and support these individuals typically need throughout their lifetimes without risking disqualifying him or her for government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income, is a “special needs trust.” This type of trust provides supplemental financial resources for the physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled individual without affecting their eligibility for public healthcare and income assistance benefits. It can be a valuable tool if parents or other relatives want to designate gifts to a child with special needs. That said, the rules for such trusts are quite complicated, and this option may be more expensive and more difficult to manage than the ABLE account discussed above.
The requirements for a child with special needs change dramatically over time, as do the laws governing public benefits.
Given this, it is vital to work with an experienced attorney who can create a comprehensive trust that is both properly structured and appropriate for your child’s specific situation.
Special Needs Planning & Trusts for Texas Children
Contact The Mundheim Firm if you need estate planning for your child with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, or another developmental or cognitive disability. Our team of experienced Texas special needs planning lawyers can develop a sustainable living plan for your child with special needs that will provide them with the finances they need to live a full life, while preserving their access to government benefits.
Estate Tax Protection
You work your entire life to save enough money to comfortably retire—and ideally leave something for your loved ones when you pass away. During your life, you pay all kinds of taxes: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and so on. At the end, the government even wants to tax you on the assets you have left at your death.
This is known as the estate tax, sometimes called the inheritance tax or death tax. The best way to protect your assets and your family’s future from excessive taxation is to hire an attorney who specializes in estate tax planning. The experienced estate tax planning lawyers at The Mundheim Firm can help you reduce—if not entirely avoid—the federal estate tax burden.
How Does the Estate Tax Work?
The estate tax is totally separate from federal income taxes and is paid on the net value of all of the assets that you own at your death. There are fairly sizable exemptions to the estate tax, so it is primarily high net-worth individuals and their families who are affected.
That said, the estate tax rate starts at a whopping 40%, so we’re talking about potentially massive sums of money being owed by one’s estate. That bill must be paid to the IRS within 9 months of the decedent’s death.
Exemptions to the Estate Tax
Notably, President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the allowable exemptions to the estate tax, ensuring that even fewer families will be affected:
- Estate tax exemption for individuals expanded from $5.4 million to $11.2 million.
- Estate tax exemption for married couples expanded from $10.9 million to $22.4 million.
So, unless your estate is valued at more than $11.2 million for 2018, and $11.4 million for 2019, you will not have to worry about the estate tax at this time, but these laws can change rapidly. For those who are affected, there are numerous estate planning strategies available that can greatly reduce the amount owed. Our estate tax planning lawyers can advise you on the best options for your family.
Advanced Estate Planning Strategies
Families with high-value estates face several complex legal and tax issues—and the estate tax is only one of them. At The Mundheim Firm, we offer a number of advanced estate planning strategies that are primarily aimed at reducing a family’s tax burden. In addition to the estate tax, we also help families navigate the gift tax and generation-skipping tax to pass assets on for successive generations without risk of estate tax decimating the estate at each generation. Some of our most popular advanced estate planning tools and strategies include:
- Life insurance trusts
- Qualified personal residence trusts
- Grantor retained annuity trusts
- Asset protection trusts
- Land trusts
- Family Trusts
- Family limited partnerships or limited liability companies
- Asset gifting
Estate Tax Planning Lawyers in Colleyville, Texas
You have worked hard to build your family’s wealth and legacy, so it makes sense to put similar effort into protecting those assets—and that includes protecting them against excessive taxes. Contact the estate tax planning attorneys at The Mundheim Firm to minimize the potential tax burden faced by your family, so you can maximize the inheritance you pass to them.
ProbateIf you are here to learn about Texas probate after the passing of a loved one, we first want to say that we are very sorry for your loss. We hope that the information you find on this page will simplify any legal and administrative headaches you might otherwise face during such a difficult time.
With that said, probate in Texas is a court-supervised procedure that helps to ensure the legal transfer of assets from the deceased to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. Probate can also be necessary to:
- Prove the validity of the will
- Appoint someone to manage the estate (The “administrator” if there is no will or the “executor” if there is one)
- Inventory and appraise the estate property
- Pay any debts or taxes (including estate 0taxes)
- Distribute the property as direct by the will—or by Texas law if there is no will.
What is so bad about probate in Texas, and what should I do next?Many residents in Texas have heard that probate is bad news. While Probate is not as expensive in Texas as it can be in other states, it is time-consuming, and it is also a public process. Although Texas offers various types of probate to fit a variety of situations, poor planning can leave your loved ones in over complicated situations waiting for the process to play out. Missing heirs, property that is not titled as it should be, and blended families can add time and expense.
The easiest way to avoid the probate process is to plan; but if you are now in a situation where you must go through probate courts to finalize the estate of a loved one, the best thing you can do is get educated and get help to complete the process as quickly, and cost-effectively, as possible.
How is a Probate Started in Texas?The hardest thing for people to understand is that a Will does not do anything unless it is probated. An un-probated Will is just a piece of paper. Although any interested person can initiate probate, normally the person named in the will as the Executor starts the process by filing the original will and an Application to Probate the Will with the probate court. If there is no will, typically a close relative of the decedent who expects to inherit from the estate will file the Petition.
How is the Executor Chosen?If the decedent had a will, the person named in the will as the Executor will serve, if eligible. If that person is unable or unwilling to serve as Executor, or if there is no Will, then any interested family member or person can petition the Court to be the Administrator of the Estate.
How does the Executor Get Paid?Texas law provides that the Executor may get paid according to a compensation schedule, based on a percentage of the assets that flow into and out of the probate estate. Many times a will provides that the Executor will not receive compensation, and the will overrides state law on that matter.
Could I Be Held Personally Liable For Making a Mistake as an Executor?Being an Executor is a big responsibility. The Texas Estates Code contains pages upon pages of complex legal rules and procedures that an Executor must follow during the administration of the Estate. There are certain deadlines that an Executor must meet in filing papers with the Court. If an Executor violates any of these rules, they can be held personally liable for losses to the estate.
My loved one had a trust… will we need to go through probate?In most cases, no. If your loved one’s assets are owned in the name of a Trust, the family can contact a lawyer who will complete some paperwork and guide the loved ones through the process with ease without the need for court involvement.
Unfortunately, many people who have a Trust think they have it all taken care of, but time and again, family members of a recently passed loved one come into my office and we find that they are facing the frustration, expense, and delay of a probate, even though the person they loved had a trust.
Why is that? Often the Trust was prepared many years ago and was never updated; and often, their loved ones’ assets were not owned in the name of the Trust. That is why it is so very important that you carefully choose your estate planning attorney and have regular reviews of your plan and assets, so that the planning you do now works as planned later.
It is why we do things so much differently than most other lawyers and law firms, here at The Mundheim Firm.
What Assets are Subject to Probate?Assets owned solely in the name of the deceased person are subject to probate. Assets that pass by means of title, such titled as “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship,” or as “Transfer On Death” are not subject to the probate process. Assets that pass by means of a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance or some retirement accounts, are also not subject to probate. In some situations, however, assets that would otherwise pass by title or beneficiary designation can be subject to the probate process. Talk to an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.
How is Distribution of the Estate Handled if there is no Will?If there is no will or trust, the estate will be distributed according to Texas laws of intestacy. Although it can be complex, and particular facts dictate each situation, a person’s estate will be distributed in roughly the following order:
- Spouse (varies by whether there are children and if both spouses are parents of those children)
- Parents (if you have no children)
- Siblings (if you have no children or parents)
How long does Probate take?The length of time of a probate will depend on several factors. It usually takes a minimum of 2-3 months and can take up to two years or even longer for complex cases.
How much does Probate Cost?Unlike many states, probate fees in Texas are not set by statute. At The Mundheim Firm, we do our best to handle each probate case on a flat fee basis. These fees range from $500.00 where an Affidavit of Heirship can be used (does not involve the probate courts, but only works in limited situations) to upwards of $7,000.00 to initiate a dependent administration (which also has some ongoing annual fees). There are a variety of situations with fees in between those two.
There are also court costs and filing fees, document certification and recording fees, and property appraisal fees. Preparation of Estate Tax Returns are priced separately and carry additional fees when necessary.
Getting Help: Choosing The Right Attorney For Your Probate CaseThe best way to ensure your probate is done right is to choose your attorney wisely. Do not assume that all attorneys are the same! Too many lawyers only “dabble” in probate or trusts. Do not choose a lawyer who does probate as a sideline. These lawyers often blunder causing real problems for their client and their cases often take longer than those handled by experienced probate lawyers.
You do not have to use the attorney who prepared the will either! Just because a particular attorney prepared the will, does not mean that attorney must handle the probate, nor are they necessarily the right person for the job. You need to be comfortable with the attorney and confident that they are the right attorney for you. Choosing your probate or trust lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you put in the time and effort to find the right lawyer, you will be rewarded with a skillful guide who will help you navigate the probate process.
Contact The Mundheim Firm For A Complimentary Post-Death Estate ReviewIf you are ready to get started with the probate process after the passing of a loved one, please contact our experienced probate attorneys at 817-479-0076 or schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation to help determine your next best steps. We are here in service to making this all as easy as possible on you. You may also schedule a One Hour Probate Consultation.
During this appointment, we will answer all of your questions about probate and guide you and your family through the next best steps. We are committed to helping you administer your loved one’s estate as quickly and efficiently as possible, and look forward to relieving any administrative or legal burdens you may face during this time of loss.
Trust & Estate AdministrationWhen a loved one dies it can be a confusing time in which you are in immense grief while also needing to make sure you handle all the technical details of locating assets, paying bills, and making sure your loved one’s assets get to the right people, without conflict. We are here to help.
Whether your loved one created a trust to hold their assets or not, he or she did have assets (called the estate of the deceased) that must be handled with careful attention. It is critical that you work with a Personal Family Lawyer® who can help you to do the right thing, minimize conflict, and ensure the smoothest possible transfer of assets.
When someone creates a trust as part of their estate plan, they must name a trustee to ensure the trust’s terms are handled properly. These individuals must carry out all of the trust’s instructions, and they are legally responsible for doing so within the scope of federal and state law. Such duties are known as trust administration.
Serving in this capacity entails a huge level of responsibility and liability. Most people named as trustee will have limited, if any, background or experience in the legal and financial duties that come with administering a trust. The trust administration lawyers at The Mundheim Firm can work with the trustee to ensure the trust is administered properly and all legal requirements are satisfied.
If there is not a trust or if not all assets have been properly titled in the name of a trust that was created, we can help your family through the process of estate administration, usually requiring a court process, called probate. If you are a beneficiary of an estate, an executor, or a trustee, contact us for support in handling the tranfer of your loved ones assets as easily as possible.
Trust and Estate AdministrationAs your Personal Family Lawyer®, we work closely with the family, beneficiaries, and other advisors to ensure the decedent's assets are collected, debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Depending on the type of trust involved, assets may be distributed outright to the named beneficiaries, or they might be held in trust for the future benefit of the named beneficiaries. If there is no trust, assets will either be distributed outright to heirs, to will beneficiaries, to a guardian, or into the registry of the court until an heir reaches the age of majority.
During this time, we may also need to have appraisals of major assets completed in order to get a clear picture of what the decedent's net worth was for estate tax purposes. Additionally, the title of trust or other estate assets may need to be changed to indicate new ownership by the named beneficiary outright or under a continuing trust.
All of this can be a hugely complicated and time consuming, but our trust and estate administration lawyers will transfer assets as quickly and smoothly as possible, resolve outstanding issues, and ensure that everything occurs within the applicable legal deadlines.
Trust and Estate Administration ServicesBelow, we have outlined some of our most common trust and estate administration services. We can accomplish the following duties without unnecessary delay and with utmost respect for your personal privacy and family relationships.
- Identification, collection, and determination of values of assets
- Payment of all debts, expenses, and taxes from estate and trust assets, with submission of regular accountings
- Advice as to disposition of jointly held assets, life insurance, and retirement benefits that pass outside a will or trust
- Preparation of state and federal, gift, generation-skipping transfer, and gift tax returns
- Notifying all heirs and beneficiaries of the trust or estate
- Communicating with beneficiaries
Trust & Estate Administration Lawyers in Colleyville, TexasNo matter how complex the trust or estate administration process may be, the trust and estate administration lawyers at The Mundheim Firm will guide you every step of the way. We will work closely with personal representatives, executors, beneficiaries, and other fiduciaries to ensure the terms of the trust are carried out properly. At the same time, we will make the process as understandable and stress-free as possible for the trustee.
The Mundheim Firm provides transactional real estate services from contracts to closings. We prepare documents for lenders, title companies, investors, developers, and families.
Title CompaniesNeed an Heirship Affidavit? Trying to close a transaction involving several deaths? Missing heirs? Just need a deed package or any closing related documents in a rush? Send your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you the docs quickly, or get the client started down the right path for probate. Download the heirship information form HERE.
Buying or Selling PropertyBuying or selling real estate can be stressful and confusing. The Mundheim Firm can help with commercial or residential contracts, reviewing or drafting subdivision documents and HOA rules, or just explaining the nuances of the paperwork involved. Let us guide you through the process. Send your questions to email@example.com and we will get back to you quickly. You may also schedule a One Hour Real Estate Consultation.
In addition to protecting your family business, The Mundheim Firm offers a variety of business services, including formation of your limited liability company, partnership, or Corporation. We are very skilled at negotiation and contracts. We also offer a membership plan to keep your annual minutes up to date at a reduced cost and allow you easy access to an attorney whenever you need one. If you are looking for help with your small business, please schedule a 15-minute free phone consultation. You may also schedule a One Hour Business Consultation. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you quickly. You can also download our LLC questionnaire HERE.