Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

Will My Estate Have to Pay an Estate Tax?

One of the biggest issues of concern for my clients is the federal estate tax. Their concern stems from the fact that some politicians have labeled it the “death tax,” which gives them the impression that there is a tax to pay anytime anyone dies. In reality, the federal estate tax has been effectively repealed forRead More

Can I Use a Transfer on Death Deed to Transfer My Car Without Probate?

The Texas Transfer on Death Deed allows owners of real estate to transfer their property to beneficiaries outside the probate process. The Deed works like a beneficiary designation on an insurance policy or retirement plan. It allows you to name a beneficiary who will inherit your real property after you die. The fact that thereRead More

Will Your Surviving Spouse Disinherit Your Children

I have written before that if you are part of a blended family, making an outright distribution to your spouse may result in your children from your prior marriage being disinherited. Why? Because when you make an outright distribution to your spouse, your spouse has the power to do whatever he or she wants withRead More

Can I Name Someone Other Than My Spouse As Beneficiary Of My 401(k)?

A concerned relative contacted me. Her cousin had been married for eight years before her recent death. Her deceased cousin had a son from a prior marriage. Her cousin started a 401(k) plan three decades before her marriage and she wondered whether her cousin’s son would be entitled to any portion of the 401(k). ARead More

Do I Need to Execute a Lady Bird Deed before Applying for Medicaid?

A concerned daughter called me recently. She said she needed a Lady Bird Deed prepared by the end of the day. When I asked why she was in a rush, she explained that her mother was going to be applying for Medicaid the next day, and someone had told her that the Lady Bird DeedRead More

Will Jointly Owned Property Automatically Pass to My Spouse When I Die?

A lot of people mistakenly assume that all jointly-held property automatically passes to a surviving spouse when one spouse dies. That is not necessarily the case. Jointly-held property can be held as tenants in common or as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Most couples who own property jointly in Texas own the property asRead More