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Posted on December 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

Texas willsAfter the end of the “Throw Mama From the Train” moratorium on the estate tax in 2010, the estate tax currently will roar back, affecting all estates with net assets of $1 million and above. Additionally, the tax rate schedule will return to their pre-Bush tax cut levels. Prior to the 0% tax in the 2010, the highest rate was 45%. Now the highest rate will be 55%–with the exception of a 60% tax rate on the portion of estates between $10 million and $17,184,000.

On December 6, 2010. President Obama announced the framework of a deal with the Republicans to extend all Bush tax cuts for two years. Part of that plan deals with the estate tax. Under the deal, only estates above $5 million would be taxed and only at the rate of 35%. These are even better terms than those prior to the 2010 moratorium (2009: exemption up to $3.5 million; highest rate of 45%). However, the fate of such plan is still uncertain. Congress must still approve the plan, and the Democrats still control the Congress. Generally, the Democratic party leadership feels the president gave away too much for too little in this deal. For this reason, the D.C. soap opera will keep us tuned in for the latest twists and turns.

Posted on August 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

Texas wills

Every year many Texans die without a Texas will because of a number of reasons: the natural fear of death, uncertainty over the probate process and its costs, sheer procrastination and the fear of an exorbitant attorney’s bill. However, these things you can control; you should have a greater fear of the things you cannot control should you die without a Texas will. Real dangers lie here—some obvious, some not so obvious.

1. Even good kids can turn on each other when dividing up the poorest and smallest estates. Your kids need your authority and guidance on how you want your estate divided between them (or not). A Texas will can legally mandate how your possessions may be divided. Having a Texas will alleviates much family strife, keeping the family united during a time in which family is most important.

2. You may be subject to the federal estate tax and Texas inheritance tax. If you fall subject to such taxes, your estate could be taxed up to 60%. If you have certain assets you wish to pass down to your family such as a business or family farm, etc., such tax could disrupt your plans severely. However, with proper planning through a Texas will, you can avoid the estate tax significantly, if not entirely.

3. Your assets could be trapped out of your spouse or family’s reach and go to the State. If you die without a Texas will to be probated, your assets, such as checking, savings and investment accounts, will eventually escheat (go) to the State of Texas after a period of inactivity unless your family probates your estate.

4. Probating an estate without a Texas will can be very costly. If your spouse or family probate your intestate estate (meaning dying with no Texas will) in order to reach your assets, the courts will appoint an administrator to divide your assets. The courts will require the administrator to be paid. Additionally, every decision, every sale of an asset to pay off a debt, every bequest will have to be approved by a court. This process proves costly, requiring hearings and lawyers. Furthermore, the courts will determine who your heirs are according to statute, and not you.

5. Living trust and TOD (transfer on death) accounts will never let you fully escape probate. Many financial advisors espouse having a living trust in order to avoid a costly probate process. This can be a great strategy especially in states such as California where the probate process can be very costly. However, can you prove that you have moved all of your property into the trust? Even if you could, this process would prove too laborious to maintain. A Texas will allows for you to deal with ALL of your assets without having to itemize every one of your possessions. Additionally, Texas is not California; accordingly, our probate costs are much cheaper.

A Texas will can eradicate such dangers and keep you in the driver’s seat even after your death—and at an affordable price.

With a Texas will in place, costs can be controlled. The probate of the average estate with a Texas will generally will cost one $250 in court costs and approximately $2,000.00 in attorney’s fees (should your family decide to hire one to handle the process). The probate of an intestate estate could cost you much more than that in attorney’s fees and administrator’s fees.

Further, you can appoint an independent executor in your Texas will, who will be able to handle the division of your assets according to your wishes without court supervision. You do not have to necessarily compensate such executor. helps you sort out all these issues while remaining affordable.

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Posted on August 4, 2010 at 8:44 am

Texas wills

There are legal document service companies on the web advertising cheap legal Texas will forms or DIY (do-it-yourself) Texas wills forms for a cheap price so that you may avoid the expensive costs of hiring an attorney to draft your estate planning documents. However, there are great dangers to doing so. Here is why:

1. Texas’ Unique Legal System. Texas has a unique legal system different from most other states, which incorporates our Spanish and Mexican legal heritage with the English common law. Most Texas will forms purchased online do not handle issues that are Texas-specific. Oftentimes, these so-called Texas will forms purchased online are crafted to be used in an entirely different state! Vermont law and Texas law are not the same!

2. Are You Comfortable Being Your Own Lawyer? When you use a legal document service company to help you write your will, they are not lawyers. In effect, you are acting as your own lawyer. These services cannot give you legal advice, but will only check your documents for misspellings and the like. They cannot and will not analyze your particular circumstances to instruct you how to avoid the estate tax, for example.

3. The Legal Document Service Companies Are Not On The Hook. Should your Texas will form purchased through one of these companies not adequately address your circumstances, and it causes you an expensive probate or tax liability, they are not liable to you for malpractice or negligence of any sort. Remember: you were your own lawyer!

4. You’ll Have To Take A Crash Course In Texas Wills and Estate Tax. In order to draft your own will even after having purchased a Texas will form, you will have to spend countless hours educating yourself on all the specialized issues of probate, estate and tax law.

5. One Size Does Not Fit All. If you use a Texas will form from one of these companies, the Texas will form will not be tailor-fit for you. Everyone has different situations with different needs: a child with special needs, a grandchild who would blow his inheritance in a week, particular heirlooms, etc. These Texas will forms do not address everyone’s unique situations; they try to fit everyone into the same square hole.

However, if you hire an attorney, the attorney can analyze your particular circumstances in order to draft the estate planning tailor-made for you and those circumstances. You would not have to divert your time from what you do best in order to learn how to conduct your own estate planning because you would have retained a specialist on the subject. With an attorney retained, the process can be made rather painless and quick. However, you would still get what you need accomplished. Most importantly, if the attorney acts negligently when drafting your estate planning documents, unlike a legal document service company, most attorneys carry errors & omissions insurance, which can protect you from such mistakes.

What if the attorney’s fees were not expensive, but, rather, affordable—and for a fixed price? Would it be worth it to have a Texas will and other estate planning documents custom made for you? Then you should learn about the affordable estate planning offered at

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