ESTATE PLANNING Wills and Ancillary Documents Having an estate plan in place is extremely important, not just for the purpose of making sure your assets are passed on according to your wishes, but also to address management of your assets and important medical decisions in the event you become incapacitated. If you become incapacitated prior to having planning documents in place, your family members may be required to petition the court to appoint a guardian to manage your assets, an often lengthy and costly process. Stirneman Law, PLLC's standard estate planning package includes the following:
Last Will and Testament (tailored to your specific wants and needs);
Durable Power of Attorney (authorizes an agent of your choosing to make financial decisions and decisions concerning your property immediately or in the event you become incapacitated and are unable to do so);
Medical Power of Attorney (authorizes an agent of your choosing to make medical decisions for you if you are deemed incapacitated);
Directive to Physicians, aka a "living will" (in the event you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, instructs a health-care provider, family member or surrogate decision maker on your treatment decisions in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition);
HIPAA Authorization (Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information);
Designation of Guardian for Minor Children (if applicable); and
Designation of Guardian before the need arises (If a person petitions the court to establish a guardianship over you, and the guardianship is granted, any durable and medical powers of attorney you have executed may be revoked. Designating a guardian before the need arises allows you to name who you would want to be appointed by the court to serve as guardian and also allows you to designate who you would not want to be appointed to serve as your guardian.)
Trusts Stirneman Law, PLLC assists clients with inter vivos ("living trusts") and testamentary (created under a last will and testament) trust planning. The following are some examples of why a settlor (creator of the trust) might transfer assets to a trustee under a trust agreement:
to protect assets from beneficiary's creditors
to limit the beneficiary's current access to the assets held in the trust
to control the disposition of property after the beneficiary's death
to remove trust assets from federal estate taxation under the grantor's or beneficiary's estate
to avoid probate proceedings pertaining to assets held in the trust
to plan for management of assets in the event of incapacity
Not all trusts provide the same benefits so it is important to choose a trust that fits your specific estate planning needs.
Business Planning and Formation
Family Limited Partnership (FLP) - An FLP can be a useful tax planning and asset protection tool that allows the general partner(s) to maintain control of the assets held in the FLP.
Limited Liability Company (LLC) - An LLC allows an individual to separate personal and business assets, creating a liability barrier that minimizes exposure of the individual's personal assets.
Buy-Sell Agreement - A buy-sell agreement addresses how certain situations will be handled between owners of a business such as: death, disability, divorce, termination of employment, retirement, and bankruptcy of an owner.
Our estate planning services are billed on a flat fee basis, meaning you will know the amount of legal fees before any work is started.
PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION Probate is defined as the legal process for determining how a decedent's assets and debts are handled. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy and can be a very stressful time for everyone involved. If you are the executor named under the decedent's will, Stirneman Law PLLC will guide you through the appropriate legal processes and any issues that may arise. It may be possible to probate the decedent's will as a Muniment of Title, a process that is quicker and less expensive than probating a will with an administration. Additionally if an individual dies intestate (without a will), there are various options available to transfer estate assets, including:
a small estates affidavit,
an heirship proceeding, and
an affidavit of heirship
Guardianships If an individual is unable to care for him or herself or manage their financial affairs, having a guardian appointed by the court may be necessary. There are many alternatives that may prevent the need for a court appointed guardianship. Contact Stirneman Law, PLLC to discuss your options. Partition of Real Property Partition is the legal term pertaining to division of property between joint owners. Often times the situation arises where beneficiaries become joint owners of real property and in some cases cannot agree as to how the property should be divided amongst themselves. If an agreement cannot be reached, a joint owner can file a partition action with the appropriate court. In Texas, joint owners have an absolute right to compel partition of the jointly owned property. There are two principle remedies in regards to a partition action, one being "partition in kind" and the second being "partition by sale". Partition in kind is defined as the division of heirs' property into physically distinct and separately titled parcels. Partition by sale is defined as a court ordered sale of the entire heirs' property, whether by open-market sale, sealed bids, or auction. If you are a joint owner of real property and cannot reach an agreement with other joint owners in regards to division, contact Stirneman Law, PLLC.
REAL ESTATE Stirneman Law, PLLC assists clients with the following:
Drafting/reviewing/negotiating oil and gas leases, joint operating agreements, and farmout agreements
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is intended to constitute legal advice. Use of this website for any purpose or contacting the firm does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship does not exist until the firm is retained through a written agreement.