Estate Planning

Hunter Sargent, PLLC clarifies the process of passing the torch of your legacy to your loved ones no matter which estate planning strategy is right for you.

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Texas Estate Plans That Secure Your Legacy

Estate planning is an all-encompassing process that involves guidance from an estate planning attorney and other professional advisors who are eager to learn your goals, concerns, assets (and how they are owned), and your family dynamics. When prepared by an estate planning attorney, a thorough estate plan helps you achieve a better quality of life. The goal of every estate plan is to eventually transfer your property, prepare for your incapacity, and achieve your tax planning goals. We consider these goals your “Legacy”. Every adult needs an estate plan. Speaking with an estate planning attorney is a critical step toward safeguarding and managing your assets in the most efficient way possible. Hunter Sargent, PLLC was founded with a desire to help Texans secure their legacies for generations to come.

How Do I Choose a Lawyer?

Choosing a lawyer to create an estate plan is a huge source of stress and delay for most people. Sometimes they’ve had to hire a lawyer for something else – divorce, business, breach of contract, etc. Sometimes they have a family member or friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend connection to a lawyer. Or maybe they don’t know any lawyers at all. But how do you choose the right lawyer to protect your legacy? How do you know if the lawyer has the full picture and expertise to accomplish your estate planning goals? After all, your estate plan will be much easier to fix while you’re still around. Insider tip: Look at the lawyer’s website. How far down the list are estate planning services? That will tell you where their priorities are. An effective estate planning lawyer should have a firm grasp on these goals:
  • Choose the right person to oversee your estate.
  • Provide for your loved ones based on their needs.
  • Minimize estate taxes.
  • Mitigate or avoid probate.
  • Protect your assets.
  • Plan for your incapacity.
  • Plan for your business.
  • If the lawyer can’t give you 2 or more solutions to each of these goals, they may not be the right lawyer for you. Texas ethics rules say that a lawyer must have the skill and knowledge to represent the client in all foreseeable issues related to the work. Are you sure your lawyer passes that test? Insider tip: Just because a lawyer doesn’t focus on estate planning doesn’t mean they’re a bad lawyer. After all, you wouldn’t hire an estate planning lawyer to represent you in a criminal trial!

What is an Estate Plan?

The basic estate plan in Texas includes 5 or 6 key attorney-prepared documents:
  • Last Will & Testament and/or Revocable Living Trust;
  • Medical Power of Attorney;
  • General Power of Attorney;
  • Directive to Physicians (sometimes called a Living Will);
  • and HIPAA Authorization.
Each of these documents serves a very specific role that addresses the objectives of estate planning. There are many ancillary components to every estate plan that help protect your legacy, as well as components you create yourself to help your loved ones utilize your legacy, such as itemized lists of physical and digital assets, lists of debts, summaries of insurance plans and retirement accounts, and more.
Perhaps the most important estate planning question every adult must answer is whether their legacy needs a will or a trust. You need a will if:
  1. Cost is your primary concern.
  2. Simplicity is your primary concern.
  3. Cost to your beneficiaries and speed are not important to you.
  4. You aren’t concerned about privacy.
  5. Your beneficiaries don’t need to access your legacy as soon as you pass.
You need a trust if:
  • You want your legacy to move quickly, cheaply, and easily to your beneficiaries.
  • You want to avoid your legacy going through court.
  • You value privacy.
  • You want to protect your legacy.
  • You want to reduce potential death taxes.
  • You have a special needs child or spouse.
  • You have a vulnerable child or spouse.
Hunter Sargent, PLLC clarifies the process of passing the torch of your legacy to your loved ones no matter which estate planning strategy is right for you. We also help you understand all aspects of the process, including probate, powers of attorney, guardianships, special needs planning, estate taxes, trust administration, or any other estate planning component that matter to you or your legacy.

What About My Business?

For those who have built a business and may want to hand it down one day, a business succession plan can be the key to securing their legacy. Businesses are a lot like families – each one is different and each one needs their own plan once you’re gone. Without a business succession plan from Hunter Sargent, PLLC, your business may end up in the wrong hands, or worse, no hands at all.
Your business may not have anybody to manage day-to-day affairs until well into the probate process, which could take months or years. Even if your business can survive without months or years of decision making, do you want your loved ones to wait that long to benefit from your hard work?

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

You need an estate plan because there’s no such thing as a simple estate. Life events that are completely outside of your control can turn your estate into a nightmare for your loved ones if you don’t have a well-crafted estate plan. Don’t let divorces, predators, lawsuits, bankruptcy, and taxes destroy your legacy. Asset preservation is critical for your long-term comfort and peace of mind. Life unfolds unpredictably and anyone can end up sitting on the losing side of a lawsuit or a creditor’s claim. We help you put order into your life and prepare your legacy for any scenario that can arise in the future, including your incapacity. If you die without an estate plan, your legacy will go to your “heirs at law”. Who are your heirs at law? The short answer is, “it’s complicated.” Texas law usually results in odd fractional interests and property going to people you never intended to share your legacy with. Even if you want your legacy to go to your heirs at law, an estate plan can make that process much easier for your loved ones or avoid the legal process altogether. Our estate plans secure your legacy and set out how your property will be managed and transferred to your beneficiaries after you pass. Hunter Sargent, PLLC estate plans significantly reduce the delay, expense, potential taxes, and fees that your heirs would face without an estate plan.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

I’m young and healthy – I don’t need to plan for my death or incapacity. If you only had one week left to live, would you get an estate plan? If the answer is yes, you should already have an estate plan. The truth is nobody knows exactly when they’re going to pass away or lose capacity. Be prepared today so you don’t have to worry if the unexpected happens tomorrow. Every parent wants to do everything in their power to ensure their children are taken care of — no matter what happens to them. Your minor children may be placed in a foster home while the courts decide who should be their financial and medical guardian unless you have the proper documents from an estate planning attorney. Many people also have wishes about what should happen to them if they are under medical treatment and unable to speak for themselves. An estate plan can include other documents that will ensure your burial wishes are respected. Your estate plan should leave instructions and grant authority to a responsible person to handle your medical care if you’re unconscious or unable to act for yourself. My family knows what I want. There’s no such thing as an oral will in Texas. Even if you’re sure that your family knows what you want for your legacy, Texas law may require your property to go somewhere else. This is especially true for money and property held by financial institutions who are reluctant to do anything at all without a court order. Once you’re gone, there’s no way to verify your wishes without a written estate plan. Human memory is imperfect and two people may hear the exact same information but walk away with two different conclusions.

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The best time to plan your legacy was 10 years ago. The next best time is today. Everyone needs estate planning - the good news is it's never too early and if you're reading this, it's not too late.

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    We'll prepare your will, trust, and business planning so you can rest easy knowing you've secured your legacy for generations to come. We have the wisdom and skill to plan legacies of all sizes.

    While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. Any communication with Hunter Sargent, PLLC via e-mail or through this website does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship and is not privileged or confidential.