Traditionally, estate planning has been viewed as the drafting of a will or as tax planning for the wealthy. This paradigm often conjures up images of wealthy families gathered in an attorney’s office and listening to a will being read following the death of a loved one. But changes in the laws and evolving views of wealth accumulation, lifestyle, non-probate assets, privacy, nontraditional families, liability exposure, and longevity have made estate planning much more compelling for a larger group of people than ever before.
Consequently, estate planning is no longer a one-time exercise of drafting a will to pass assets to one’s heirs at the time of death. Rather, it is an ongoing process that encompasses financial, retirement, business succession, asset protection, charitable, legacy, medical, disability and gift planning over an entire lifetime, and even beyond. For this reason, we approach estate planning as a multifaceted strategic process to ensure that the plan is tailored to the client’s unique desires and circumstances.
“We advise and assist clients in building effective family structures to bridge the present and future generations.”
The process commences with gathering critical information from our clients in an effort to assess their circumstances. At this stage, we seek to gain an understanding of our clients’ family situation as well as the extent and nature of assets they have accumulated over their lives. This may include liquid cash investments, such as savings accounts and certificate of deposits, or less liquid investments such as mutual funds, individual retirement accounts, annuities, life insurance, business interests or real estate. In many cases, we also undertake the task of determining the characterization of these assets as either separate or community property.
We meet personally with our clients to discuss and identify their specific, desires, goals and objectives that need to be addressed in establishing their plan. Through this process, we are able to assist our clients in addressing objectives that may not even be related to the disposition of their tangible assets. Whatever the case, we go to great lengths to establish a mutual relationship of trust with our clients so that we can properly guide them in passing their wealth and legacy among their heirs or other desired recipients in the manner most beneficial for their intended heirs. Our clients’ objectives may include minimizing taxes, establishing vehicles to provide for the effective management and control of assets, protecting assets against future or current spouses and/or creditors of the beneficiaries, and even encouraging those of subsequent generations to embrace our client’s core values and principles.
Once we have a clear understanding of our clients’ desires and circumstances, we craft a plan that is uniquely tailored to their circumstances. This can involve the preparation of a last will and testament and even a revocable living trust to ensure that one’s assets will be properly managed and left to one’s intended beneficiaries as efficiently as possible. In certain situations it may involve implementing an irrevocable trust to pass assets to family members during the client’s lifetime. In yet other situations, a family limited partnership may be created to as a management structure to, among other things, protect a client’s assets from the claims of future creditors as well as possibly enhancing valuation management for estate and gift tax purposes. Our comprehensive planning also includes assisting clients in implementing proper beneficiary designations for non-probate assets (e.g., life insurance, annuities, 401ks, and IRAs) and even going so far as to document our clients’ values, hopes, dreams and non-legal instructions in a way that could inspire and guide future generations and trustees.
“If we can assist you with your estate planning needs, please contact us today.”
Our legacy and estate planning process culminates in a uniquely-crafted plan that addresses our clients’ circumstances and objectives, in light of the rules and laws that exist at the time the plan is implemented. However, we are very cognizant of the fact that one of the only constants in life is change. Not only is it a virtual certainty that Congress, the courts and the IRS will change our laws, it is also as likely that our clients’ circumstances will evolve as well. Furthermore, as is the case in any industry, new and improved planning techniques continue to be developed over time to resolve issues we did not even know existed, or had not recognized previously. To keep up with these changes and ensure our clients’ estate plans remain current, we offer to assist our clients in proactively reviewing their plan as an integral and continuing part of our estate planning process.
Our expertise ranges from planning for a large, complex, taxable estate with varying asset classes, charitable donees, special needs trusts and zero estate tax features to a more simplified last will and testament, revocable living trust and/or Marital Trust, Bypass Trust and/or Children’s Trust structure. We assist families with estate planning in the Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex as well as representing significant clients in other metro areas in Texas.