“Estate Planning is about more than just allocating your assets properly, it’s also about bringing you peace of mind.”
Experienced Estate Planning Lawyers Assisting Families in Sugar Land, Houston and the Surrounding Areas
At Romano & Sumner, we believe that everyone should seek to provide for the future of their loved ones through effective estate planning. An effective estate plan offers you peace of mind. It can lessen the burden of confusion and conflict that your family might otherwise have to go through just when they are grieving the loss of their loved one – you.
Estates vary drastically in terms of size and complexity. Appropriate estate planning should take into account both personal and financial goals as well as tax considerations. Planning an estate is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, in which the final result must take into account many different areas of law including wills, probate, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives.
An Estate Planning Solution as Unique as You Are
We enjoy over three decades of combined experience offering estate planning services to our clients. We have learned to reject the approach used by “cookie cutter” law firms that apply a standard legal formula to estate planning, while ignoring their clients’ individual needs and concerns. Every client is different, every estate is different, and our work reflects this reality.
You are more than a case number to us. We will respond to your phone calls within 24 hours, and we will keep you “in the loop” on the progress of your case. More than anything else, we will lay it on the line for you. We will discuss issues with you frankly and honestly, without any of the incomprehensible “legalese” that so many lawyers seem to pride themselves on.
“Paul was very patient and always kept me in the know about my case. He was able to explain things clearly and was humble enough to ask me to clarify specific things with my side of the case so he could better understand my position. He would impose his knowledge and expertise but also leave any decision up to me. I felt guided but not pressured. I am confident in him as my attorney.”
— Whitney, September 12, 2014
- Will Contests: Any “interested person” can contest the validity of a will by, for example, arguing that the will was invalid or that it did not reflect the true intentions of the deceased. Will contests are not fun. Unfortunately, they tend to bring out the worst in people and can result in long-lasting pain and acrimony within a family. But they are not uncommon. Ironically, it is even possible to contest a will that includes a “no contest” clause.
- Estate Litigation: Will contests are but one subset of estate litigation. Estate litigation can also include disputes over trusts, joint tenancies, insurance policies, future interests, estate executors, and many other issues. The law in this area is complex, and disputes tend to be complicated by the inevitable emotional turmoil of losing a loved one.
- Trust Litigation: Trust litigation disputes typically revolve around issues with the trustee such as fraud, incompetence, or disputes among beneficiaries. Like any other type of estate litigation, legal issues can get complex and emotions tend to run high. Hiring an experienced trust attorney can help you maintain your objectivity during a stressful dispute.
- Guardianship Litigation: Guardianship disputes can erupt quite unexpectedly, even among family members. What complicates many guardianship disputes are allegations of abuse. Sadly, financial abuse of the elderly is far more common than most people realize. Since guardianship law is complex, disputes often require the intervention of an experienced guardianship attorney.
- Business Litigation: Business litigation typically involves two competing considerations. On one hand, there is usually a neat and seemingly perfect legal resolution to a dispute. On the other hand, the “perfect” legal solution is often inconsistent with a desirable business outcome. A good business litigation attorney knows how to walk this tightrope between competing concerns.
- Estate Taxes: If the only two certainties in life are death and taxes, estate taxes combine the two into a single event – at least with respect to those estates large enough that estate taxes are a real concern. Although Texas imposes no estate tax, the federal government does, and the rate changes from year to year.
- Probate Administration: Unfortunately, complex legal issues relating to probate administration tend to arise at the worst possible moment – the death of a loved one. Of course, the process is much easier if your loved one had an effective estate plan in place. Either way, you are probably going to need the assistance of a skilled Texas probate administration lawyer.
- Guardianship: A guardian may be appointed for various reasons. Here are just a few examples:
- an elderly loved one becomes terminally ill and unable to manage his finances, or make informed medical decisions,
- a minor inherits a substantial sum of money,
- a mentally incapacitated child reaches adulthood without the ability to care for his own needs
- an elderly loved one becomes plagued by dementia, and can no longer make sound decisions for themselves, and more.
- Asset Protection: Asset protection is the art of managing your assets in a manner that protects them as much as possible from the claims of future creditors. Devising and executing an effective asset protection plan can get quite complex, and it requires both legal expertise and a certain amount of innovative thinking to succeed.
- Business Law: it has been said that “the law touches everything.” Nowhere is this truer than in business. If you own, manage or hold shares in a business, you will find legal issues everywhere you look – and some of them are far more important than they are obvious. Not only must these legal issues be resolved, they must be resolved in a manner that protects both your legal interests and your business interests.
We practice in other areas of law as well including tax controversies, gift tax issues and trademark law.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should an estate plan include?
That depends on the details of your finances. At the minimum, however, an estate plan should include:
- A last will and testament
- A living will
- A durable power of attorney
- A medical power of attorney
- A guardian designation
Is my will valid in Texas if I prepared it in another state?
Texas will determine the validity of your will based on the requirements of Texas law, not the requirements of the state in which it was prepared. Although your will may be valid in Texas, there is no guarantee of that—it may have to be modified.
What is a living will?
A living will, or advance healthcare directive, is a document in which you state your preferences for end of life care in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal condition. It should specify, for example, whether your healthcare provider should attempt to extend your life even at the cost of suffering or simply “pull the plug.”
What is a durable power of attorney?
A durable power of attorney allows someone else to make financial decisions for you, including negotiating with third parties such as banks. It is “durable” because it remains in effect even after you become incapacitated (e.g., mentally incapacitated, unconscious, or unable to communicate).
What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a will (and without a functional equivalent such as a living trust), your property will be distributed under Texas intestate succession law. Your property will be divided among your closest relatives, with priority given to your spouse and children.
Should I write my own will?
No. If your draft one yourself, one of two problems is likely to arise: (i) your will is declared invalid and your property is distributed according to Texas intestate succession law; or (ii) your will is declared valid but it is misinterpreted, and your estate is distributed in a manner that you did not intend.
What is a medical power of attorney?
A medical power of attorney is a document that allows someone to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated. Medical treatment can be unpredictable, and a person with medical power of attorney would be able to make decisions for you that you didn’t anticipate when you executed a living will.
What does a guardian do?
A guardian is a person with the legal authority to make certain kinds of decisions for you in the event that you become unable to make them yourself (if you lapse into a coma, for example). A guardian may also be appointed for a minor. Texas law recognizes two types of guardianships:
- a guardian of a person who is authorized to make personal decisions on your behalf, and
- a guardian of your estate who is authorized to make financial decisions on your behalf.
Effective estate planning requires the ability to apply “outside of the box” thinking. Your attorney must be able to integrate a wide variety of legal principles and apply them to a highly unique item – your estate – in an optimal manner. Since a single missed “detail” in your estate plan could cause huge problems years later, the principle that guides us is that there is no such thing as an unimportant detail – everything matters.
Our Trusted Lawyers Stand Ready to Assist You With Your Estate Planning Needs
If you own significant assets, please contact the Sugar Land estate planning attorneys at Romano & Sumner as soon as possible. Our initial consultation is free of charge, and it carries no obligation of any kind. You can contact us online or call (281) 242-0995 to start providing for the future today.
The estate planning attorneys at Romano & Sumner cover the following services to create a comprehensive plan for your assets, and a sense of security for you and your loved ones.
Planning Your Will
A will is a document that allows you (as the “testator”) to name the heirs you wish to receive your real and personal property upon your death. Within your will, you may also name who will care for your minor children (if any), who will settle your estate upon your passing (the “executor”), and the manner in which you wish to be laid to rest (such as funeral arrangements, cremation, etc.). Probate is an issue when property is passed via a will. There are certain requirements for a valid will in Texas that must be met. Having the right estate planning lawyer in Sugar Land can make all the difference.
A trust may be either revocable or irrevocable. In either case, you as the “trustor” create the trust. Typically, the trustor than acts as the “trustee” during his or her lifetime, and a successor trustee is named to fulfill the terms of the trust upon the trustor’s passing. Probate may be avoided, as there is no transfer of title required for any asset within the trust. The trust “owns” the property. The trustor as the original trustee, and then the successor trustee, merely manages the assets as per the trust terms. Read more about trusts.
Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney allows another to act on your behalf in financial matters if you become incapacitated. Powers of attorney may be very specific or general in nature and are in effect only as long as your are incapacitated.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An advance health care directive allows an individual to arrange for the type of health care options to be administered to that person, should he or she become incapacitated. You may name an individual to make the decisions you cannot make for yourself and leave specific instructions to your doctors as to the nature of the treatments you wish to receive or refuse to receive.
Certain assets are transferred immediately upon the death of an individual by operation of law. Examples include life insurance proceeds, assets held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, and assets held in accounts with a pay on death (“POD”) beneficiary. For more information, schedule a free consultation with our estate planning attorneys.
Family Limited Partnership
For high net worth individuals, a family limited partnership is an estate planning tool. This involves the formation of a business entity that can be used to transfer assets from one generation to subsequent generations, while also providing significant creditor protection. Read more about family limited partnerships.
A consultation with a Sugar Land estate planning lawyer can provide you with the best information to ensure your wishes are fulfilled in the best and most economical manner possible. For a free initial consultation with experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Sugar Land please call us at 281 242-0995 or contact our Sugar Land law offices.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC is proud to serve these Texas areas
Cities / Suburbs:
The Woodlands | Sugar Land | Baytown | Conroe | Katy | Friendswood | Pearland | League City | Richmond | Rosenberg | Spring | Humble | Kingwood | Clear Lake City | Stafford | Jersey Village | Cypress | Missouri City
77478 | 77479 | 77487 | 77496 | 77498 | 77459 | 77489
Harris County, Fort Bend County, and surrounding counties